Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quebec: NHL Team First?

There is a newly released poll that states that today's NHL players support the return of a team to Quebec City.

I'm not quite sure of the the breakdown nor were any questions asked to about why the city was chosen.

In recent months there has been rumblings in politics and on the part of the NHL about Quebec City getting finances for a new arena as well as a team. I think some sort of announcement is likely to come soon on the arena. They will have to wait a bit longer on a team.

So how does this affect Winnipeg's chances? Well, it should be noted that the players don't choose the cities they play in. They go where there are facilities and where there is a ownership group willing to pay their generous salaries.

Winnipeg has both a facility and an ownership group ready to go. If the Phoenix Coyotes fail to go this year, they are likely to be knocking on Winnipeg's door very soon.

It is possible that the NHL will try and operate the team one more year as a league venture but that whole idea probably doesn't sit well with some of the governors.

In the end, Quebec City might get a posher arena than what Winnipeg has right now but with teams looking to bail pronto, it won't come soon enough. Winnipeg will probably get a team first.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Only Party Interested In Sunday Shopping

I wrote some time back that if a political party wanted to stand out from the crowd that they should let Manitoba shopkeeper set their own Sunday shopping laws.

The Free Press reports today that the NDP and Progressive Conservatives will not change the Sunday shopping laws to what everyone else has in the region around us.

The only party to stand for allowing what everyone else has is the Manitoba Liberals.

For some consumers and retailers this should stand as a major reason to vote Liberal in the provincial election.

It's no use saying that nothing changes in Manitoba if your vote consistently goes to parties that only want the status quo.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Campus Radio Licence Pulled By CRTC

This should serve as a warning about campus radio stations that don't follow their commitments to the CRTC.

The CRTC has revoked the licence of a community radio station on Ryerson University’s campus citing numerous regulatory violations and a lack of quality control.

In a news release, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says CKLN Radio Inc., could not convince regulators that it could properly operate the station going forward. CKLN receives funding from Ryerson students and is a tenant of the student-government-managed campus centre, but has no official relationship with the University.

The investigation into station operations began in July 2009 after complaints about CKLN's management, operations and quality of programming.

The CRTC says “significant infighting” plagued the station and the building manager on campus eventually locked out staff and management for a period of seven months, during which intermittent loops of programming went over the airwaves.

The station could not maintain a significant quality-control mechanism once regular broadcasting resumed, the CRTC ruled, and cited limited involvement from Ryerson’s student body.

The station management was not able to comply with licence requirements, including submission of on-air tapes, program logs and complete annual returns.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Walmart Supercenters Come to Winnipeg

It was inevitable once that Target made its announcement that Walmart would have to respond and fast. The supercenter format that they have only really used in Ontario so far will be unrolled to the rest of the country, Manitoba and Quebec first.

There will be some cheering this move while others will be horrified.

Competitive retailing should always be applauded. The winner is the consumer. What would the The Bay been without Eaton's over the years? Price and product were competed for by those department stores at every turn. Canadian consumers benefited.

When Walmart bought the tired Woolco stores in Canada, they created a competition on price on a wide variety of products. However, it has taken more than ten years for that competition to fully encompass food. Real Canadian Superstore has had a long time to get ready for this move. Safeway has taken a while longer to realize that price and size of their stores have to improve or they will lose market.

Few people remember that Grand Forks, North Dakota had an Albertson's grocery store in the Columbia Mall parking lot but that small format lost favour with the arrival of Walmart in that community.

Walmart and Target are going to battle it out as they do all over the U.S. and only nimble Canadian companies will do well against them. And yes, it is possible to succeed even with that competition. If we look once more to Grand Forks, we see local and regional groceries holding their own such as Hugo's and Super One Foods.

Cheers to the competition we can expect in the next while on price and product.

Okay, so now that we are done cheering, let's address the horrors aspect that other people are likely to focus on.

Some of the biggest complaints will be how the large size of the stores contributes to sprawl. From a local perspective this is starting to be a big problem as municipal services are continued to be stretched to the limit. The lower prices at these superstores has to be measured against how much extra tax might end up being paid to pay for roads. I don't know that we have ever really addressed in a meaningful way.

Still, the emergence of the superstores in Winnipeg appears to be more of an expansion of the footprint of the stores rather than a move to further out into the suburbs.

While the issue of sprawl and Walmart cannot be denied, the expansion of the present stores is a harder case to hang one's hat in opposition.

Generally, the arguments against Walmart supercenters is a more generalized one. The issue of employment standards, foreign products, quality and the like is where some naysayers have legitimate arguments.

Choice and price usually rule the day in Canada.

The battle of sprawl will part of a larger debate on car culture and land use that Canadians will only confront when costs become to difficult to ignore.


As an add on, the Free Press reported that a company in Canada plans a factory outlet mall for the city. The story falls slightly short of an announcement that shovels are in the ground.

The factory outlet concept in the U.S. often places these mall outside a large city. One example is Albertville in Minnesota.

A few locations were mentioned within city limits for this development. I wouldn't be surprised if this mall is developed outside the city in a place such as Headingley.

If such a mall is to be built, it hard to argue that outside city limits would be better for Winnipeg.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Manitoba Moose Game Today

Today is the first day for the CBC coverage of Manitoba Moose games. They play Abbottsford Heat at 12 noon.

Hope lots of people tune in so that we see more coverage next year including play-offs.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Latest Fall TV News Ratings

There was a bit of a dip for all three TV news programs in Winnipeg in this last fall ratings period. CTV News remained on top, followed by Global News and with CBC trailing in third place in the 6:00 timeslot.

TV News Ratings through October/November 2010 6 to 6:30

CTV News 129,000 viewers (130,000 - 2009)
Global News between 37,900 viewers (42,600 - 2009)
CBC News 27,600 viewers (33,800 - 2009)

As mentioned, all the ratings were down in the 6:00 p.m. timeslot. It was a marginal drop for CTV News and bigger drop for Global and CBC.

But does this tell the full story? Not quite.

CBC News has a 90 minute offering.

Here is the CBC News ratings in the hour before:

5:00 to 5:30 p.m. 38,100 viewers (28,500 - 2009)
5:30 to 6:00 p.m. 39,000 viewers (32,900 - 2009)

In both timeslots has seen some fair increases. Put together, it is a fairly good number over last year. Each of those half hours has more viewers than Global's 6:00 p.m. news.

CTV News that has the 6:30 to 7:00 p.m timeslot to itself for local news fared thus:

CTV News 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. 113,300 viewers (117,000 - 2009)

That is down a bit. I'd be curious as to where viewers went. To Coronation Street?

CTV News has a right to be happy but there should be some concern that their numbers in the second hour tail off even in the absence of news competition.

CBC News has a right to be happy because the first full hour of their news has seen this marked increase. The hour where they compete with CTV and Global News is weak though. It may be time to think of a somewhat different approach. Perhaps a long form story in that hour? Maybe a panel of pundits? Longer interviews with the Premier, leader of the Opposition?

The point is that repeating the same things from the previous hour seems to be losing audience for the CBC.

As for Global News...second place and falling numbers means a re-think as well. If CBC News can pull up its britches in the last half hour of their news, it could mean trouble for their team.

As to the quality of the news...CBC tends to be a bit repetitive. Global News tends add too many stories produced elsewhere. CTV is the best overall but can turn a bit fluffy at times.

In short, we have been better served by TV news in years past. It is possible to report compelling news without breaking the bank. Interviews in the studio might be a way to go for a full newshour. For Global News with only a 30 minute format, they should stick to local coverage only. Picking up obvious Toronto created content is not the way to go. And for CBC, try not to be so repetitive.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Free Press Story - Target

Bartley Kives is a pretty good writer for the Free Press. His coverage of City Hall is always to be read. However, it looks like he not a big fan of Target. His story titled Taking aim at TARGET published on Sunday was fairly critical.

I think the first thing he points out in his criticism is that Walmart and Target in the U.S. are alike but somehow that Target doesn't get the mud flung at it that Walmart does in terms of how people feel about the store.

Well, clearly if that is happening then it is because the two stores have been doing something differently over the years.

Kives might be far too dismissive of one of the reasons women shop at Target.

More significantly, Target sells clothing middle-class women are willing to wear. Or at least that's what I'm told.

The prices might be slightly higher but affordable and fashionable clothes is a lot harder for women to achieve than for men in general. In this area, Target clearly does something different.

One of the things that Kives says about Walmart's arrival in 1994 is not necessarily true.

Few people cheered when Walmart came to Canada in 1994, when the chain was expected to wipe out independent businesses with the ruthless efficiency of The Borg, to use a pop-culture reference relevant at the time.

Actually, there were quite a few people who cheered. Woolco had become tired and had not kept up with the competition over the years. There was a strong possibility that if Woolco had not been bought over that they might have just shut down. There certainly seemed to be no willing buyers in Canada.

Walmart was a major factor in cross border shopping as well. The company's arrival in Canada slowed travel south considerably along with a weak dollar.

Also appreciated was a push to more competitive pricing. As Canadians are frequently reminded, the prices in Canada for many products even when the currency is high is often steep. Real Canadian Superstore and its parent company Loblaw's became a lot more price competitive.

By 1998, another weak U.S. retailer in Canada faltered in Kmart and Zellers felt the need to act and bought the company and shut down a lot of the stores and took over the best locations elsewhere. Four years earlier, they didn't seem to be interested in Woolco.

There was certainly some people in Canada who feared the presence of Walmart and big box stores, sprawl and a whole host of other issues that went with being a large company. But there were just as many who were happy that a weaker U.S. retailer was out and a stronger competitor in retailing was in.

Zellers has struggled for a few decades for some love. It has improved a bit but still hasn't found its feet like say...Canadian Tire. The improvements it has made came through two different U.S. owners over the last years.

When Target was looking to make a big splash in the market, there was a lot that Zellers had to offer. That thing was location. While Target might want to have some big stores in the future, Zellers has locations that will work for it now and could be strong in the future. Zellers also has a customer base that could be loyal to the new store as well.

Lastly, Kives has this to say:

Above all else, the end result is more homogeneity. And you can add that to the existing homogeneity that already makes Winnipeg's outskirts just as bland and ugly as the edges of every other major metropolitan area in North America.

A couple of years down the road, we'll have an Ikea store and a couple of Targets to go along with the Walmarts on suburban arteries clogged with McDonald's, Tim Hortons and Subway.

I understand the utter pointlessness of being upset about this. Just don't be offended if I decline to cheer on the process.

I think this is an entirely separate issue. If Kives is upset about car culture, suburbs, corporatism and large stores then he has far bigger concerns than just about Target coming to town.

In the end it comes down to this: A U.S. owned retailer called Zellers has been bought by a U.S. owned retailer called Target. The buyer has a reputation for success in price and product and an overall better marketing strategy than the seller.

Canadians will likely appreciate such a company.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011


CTV has an article about the superstreets concept that is being tested out to help improve flow of traffic and put an end to left turns that can cause danger.

In short, the idea is to have people make right turns and then a U-turn to avoid the problems associated with a left turn.

I think anyone in Winnipeg could come up with several deadly intersections in town where left turns are brutal. Check out the article and let's hope that someone in city planning is looking at this. It may be more expensive initially to set up but if it saves lives and reduces congestion, it will be worth it.

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Freedom of Information- Great Canadian Talk Show

It is unlikely the Winnipeg Free Press ever thought that some of its activities might be revealed in a Freedom of Information request.

However, when the editor of the Free Press contacted the president of the Red River College to lodge a complaint through unofficial channels, the emails and notes were traceable and available through a freedom of information request.

The National Post on November 16 had this to say about the cancellation of The Great Canadian Talk Show:

Graham Thomson, the college’s dean of business and applied arts and a non-voting executive member of the board that canned the show, acknowledged that the Winnipeg Free Press contacted president Stephanie Forsyth, but denied any outside influence. Ms. Forsyth declined to comment.

“As I understand it, the president did get a communication from the Free Press,” he said, later adding that he believed the communication came from editor Margo Goodhand. “There were some concerns about Marty having taken shots at the Free Press ... I believe that the concern about the show was voiced by the president to one of our vice-presidents who is on the board.”

Mr. Thomson said the vice-president was present at the Nov. 2 executive board meeting of Cre-Comm Radio Inc. — the non-profit corporation that manages the station — where four voting board members unanimously decided to cancel Mr. Gold’s show.

He said the cancellation was part of a far-reaching “reorganization” aimed at ensuring students get air-time, and said the decision “was not about censorship.” Mr. Thomson said the decision was made without student board-member consultation and without faculty input — something the station’s bylaws “allow for.”

In an email to the National Post, Ms. Goodhand said: “I’ve never met Mr. Gold, I’ve never actually heard his college radio show, and I don’t know why it was cancelled.”

There seems to be a great chasm between what the editor said to the National Post and what she said to the president of the college on October 22, 2010:

The college is granting Mr. Gold/Goldstein/Boroditsky a daily podium for his rants, which have escalated to defamation on more than several accounts.

This letter would seem to indicate that someone at the Free Press knew and had heard The Great Canadian Talk Show and the editor said that she had researched the blog posts as well. The editor also seems to know a lot about the background of the host of the radio show.

The last note of the letter that was made available through Freedom of Information indicates the newspaper had enlisted their lawyer and the threat was there that the paper could be proceeding to a course of action.

A few other claims were made about the radio show as well and the editor asked for confidentiality over the matter. However, the gist of the letter was "do something."

It would seem that that the claim of not knowing why the radio show was cancelled was disingenuous. The Free Press was the one that had made a complaint.

The Freedom of Information Act is likely to make available all of the decisions that went into the cancelling the radio program. If everyone followed protocol outlined within the rules set up for the radio licence and by the CRTC in regards to complaints then everything should be okay. However, if rules were broken in order to kill the radio program, it could set off a very different process which the college and newspaper may come to regret.

The lesson learned about all this is that information that is passed back and forth within a provincially run institution such as the college falls under the Freedom of Information Act. As such, those who work at the college can expect requests to see the mechanics of how they operate. Also, those who have business with the college such as a newspaper might find that their communications become available under the same act as well.

I called the college myself in regards to the cancellation to learn more about what happened and asked about what sort of appeal process existed for cancelled programs. I was contacted by phone in regards to my question and was told such an appeal was possible. I wrote about that call here. I have not heard anything since.

I expect we will see more in regards to the radio decision in the days ahead.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Off-road Vehicles

The city and the province seem uninterested in enforcing laws on the use of off-road vehicles. Snowmobiles, ATVs and other mechanized vehicles seems to be of low priority. The death of a man in Transcona has police befuddled. Immediate charges are being considered but consultations with the province have to happen first.

We have seen an increase in deaths from a variety of off-road vehicles in the last years. There is also a lot of evidence of just an overall lack of consideration as some off-road vehicles cut fences down in Charleswood to rip up fields used for sports. Some of the interviews on various news media have indicated that some snowmobiles are using city streets and sidewalks to access the fields heading out of town.

The endless stream of death and injuries will continue so long as enforcement is completely absent in this area. An election is coming up, the law is a provincial one. Time for Greg Selinger and his NDP government to indicate that they will not tolerate anymore flouting of the law and they will move to enforce the rules.

It has been 11 years of death and destruction. Time to get off the fence and make sure that policing in this area happens.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Manitoba Time

Hammer Time

Miller Time

Manitoba Time... uh no Manitoba: Glorious and Free

Travel Manitoba is about to unveil a $2 million marketing campaign.

The slogan will be "Manitoba Time".

You have to wonder if anyone thought about the built in jokes such a slogan will have. Miller Time and Hammer Time come to mind.

I have a suggestion that goes old school. Glorious and Free. It is right on our coat of arms. It say a lot. It means a lot. It represents Manitoba and doesn't seem to be manufactured by some test audience somewhere.

It seems we spend a lot of spirited energy trying to convey something to others about our province.

Why not stick to something that has worked a long time.

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Target Comes To Winnipeg

Target comes to Winnipeg...and the rest of Canada.

Zellers will be turned into Target locations in Winnipeg and across Canada with the takeover by Target.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

APTN Buildings

Missed in all of the other stuff that happens in the city was the news back in November that the Aboriginal People's television Network (APTN) had bought the building that they had been leasing since the launch of the station in 1999. 339 Portage Avenue is now completely owned by the network.

However, APTN did not stop there. They also bought the former CIBC and for a time RBC bank building at 333 Portage Avenue. For a short time this building was a hip hop club following CIBC shutting the branch down in 1990. It used to attract people from as far away as North Dakota for its music. RBC moved in when their old building was torn down for the new Hydro building. They moved back last year.

APTN used 333 Portage Avenue as a temporary base for their extensive Olympics coverage. The station must have liked the possibilities of a street front operation after the Olympics that they bought the building.

I haven't seen any exterior improvements to the bank building yet but one wonders if they might take it public like New York stations do with street scenes behind the studio.

Excellent news for Portage Avenue and great news for the APTN network.

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Pundits on Radio

In less than an hour, a new radio show on UMFM will start. It is hosted by Tessa Vanderhart. It will feature: Christian Cassidy, Graham Hnatiuk, Walter Krawec and later on Rob Galston. They are seen in the picture above. ha!

The show is called Winnipeg Internet Pundits.

Although it is female hosted, I hope that they can include a female blogger at some point as well.

Good luck with the show tonight! I am recording it to listen later.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The End of the Canwest Name

The Asper family could hardly expect to keep the name up on a tower they own for a company that doesn't exist. Izzy Asper must be rolling around right now.

Many of his contributions to charity and to business are being stripped away in quick order now that the Canwest empire is no more.

On Monday, the Free Press reported that the Canwest sign was being dismantled. The new name of the building is the awe inspiring 201 Portage. Portage and Main has gone anonymous in the last years.

And apparently, it isn't the only edifice that is losing its name. Canwest Park, home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes will become Shaw Park. I was curious as to whether Shaw would put their name to things. Despite their large presence in Manitoba, I thought they might just spend money in their home province of Alberta.

The Canwest Performing Arts Centre at The Forks is also looking at re-branding to Shaw.

The University of Winnipeg's Canwest Centre for Theatre and Film might keep its name although it is anyone's guess what the details of that naming was.

Most names of stadiums and other edifices have a timeline nowadays for how long they will be up if corporations are giving the money. If the money stops or the company stops, the naming rights seem to be up for grabs or in Canwest's case, up for changing.

Even in Winnipeg, there is no guarantee that naming a bridge or street after a person will last. One hundred years from now, look to see Milt Stegall Drive thrown under the bus because no one knows who he is. In fact, will they even know what the Canadian Football League is 100 years from now?

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Boyd Building Spanking?

1. That a Certificate of Suitability not be issued to maintain an existing, but unapproved, Electronic Messaging Centre sign at 388 Portage Avenue, as it is not compatible with the existing heritage building

This was added to the January 11, 2011 Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development Regular Meeting Agenda

The owners of the Boyd Building decided to kick City Council in the groin. The decided to build their electronic sign with no city approval and have dared council to do anything about it.

These owners have managed to turn any goodwill their purchase of the Boyd Building had a few years ago into hostility. They don't seem to care about promises they made on a parkade and turned the land next to their building into a surface lot right up to the sidewalk. They didn't seem to think the rules on signs applied to them and built their sign and started running ads right away annoying residents and distracting motorists.

It remains to be seen whether this city council will tell them they have gone too far.

Perhaps this council will say that rules were broken and will order the sign taken down.

Or they might approve it despite what their own civil servants advise. We'll see tomorrow.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

1580 Taylor Avenue - New Spa

The piece of land on Taylor Avenue in question.

The City Centre Community Committee discusses this week the plan for a new spa on one of the last pieces of land along Taylor for development.

Nothing against the spa or developer that is making plans for the site. However, if the idea of ever putting a north-south corridor for active transportation along the Burlington Northern line is to be a success, it will have to have an exit in south River Heights.

The old CN Oakpoint line already has condos going up on it so that can't be used but there is enough land alongside BNSF's line to run from Wellington Crescent all the way to Taylor Avenue where it could connect with a bike path all the way to Fort Rouge.

The top photo shows the Burlington Northern office and rail line that runs north into River Heights.

The middle photo shows the land up for development.

The bottom map shows the area of south River Heights being developed.

There are so many times we hear about conflicts between drivers and bikes. Is it possible to ensure that there is a right of way path along the rail line for bikes or footpath in the future?

The development can proceed but think of the future for once, please.

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Shaw And Data Usage

I wondered back in December if Shaw was going to raise rates with the introduction of Netflix. Their response to going over download limits was to cut customers off. Now, they will charge if someone goes over their limit three months in a row.

Expect more tweaks as more people start accessing television and movies via but the bottom line is that Shaw will charge more and more for their service and act as gatekeeper. Moreover, they will likely try to kill competitive services and direct more people to their video on demand services instead.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

CCTV and Winnipeg Crime Prevention

The study by the Winnipeg Police in regards to their 10 cameras and how effective they are comes out in the next month.

There are already many people who are begging for more cameras to be installed believing they will help reduce or prevent crime.

So just how effective are CCTV cameras? Well, according to the studies from Australia and Britain where there are a great deal of these cameras, not as good as one would think.

In 2008, the vast majority of Winnipeggers supported the idea of CCTV. However, there was a significant group within the poll that believed it might not reduce crime.

Respondents agreed strongly most frequently with the perception of effectiveness in catching criminals and holding offenders accountable.
Those same respondents disagreed most frequently with the perception of effectiveness in freeing police officers up to deal with other crime issues.
Interestingly, some are skeptical that CCTV will be effective in preventing crime and reducing serious crime issues. This, coupled with the general level of support for the use of CCTV, implies some level of cautious optimism. Secondary phases of this research should focus on these seemingly contradictory perceptions.

We should know more about how effective the cameras are shortly but here is what the most in depth report from Australia said.

The perceived success of CCTV in relation to controlling crime in Australia is almost totally anecdotal (Goodwin, 2002; Sutherland Shire Council, 2001, 2003; Welsh and Farrington, 2002). While further CCTV implementation continues to occur and state and federal agencies consider additional crime detection and minimisation strategies (Wilson, 2003), there is a critical need to undertake a comprehensive review and research the impact of CCTV on security of public spaces and public transport.

This research questions the general assumption “that surveillance cameras are not only controlled and monitored constantly, but also operated effectively and efficiently” (Smith, 2004, p. 376). It is unrealistic to suggest the installation of cameras will have a major impact on crime rates unless “used as part of a strategy to tackle specific offences” (Gill and Hemming, 2006, p. 36). From our research it appears CCTV is effective at detecting violent crime and/or may result in increased reporting as opposed to preventing any type of crime.

In other words, crime prevention was not happening if not part of an overall strategy that was not dependent on the camera.

The British went further on this in 2008:

Use of CCTV images for court evidence has so far been very poor, according to Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, the officer in charge of the Metropolitan police unit. "CCTV was originally seen as a preventative measure," Neville told the Security Document World Conference in London. "Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It's been an utter fiasco: only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. There's no fear of CCTV. Why don't people fear it? [They think] the cameras are not working."

So in Winnipeg, before we start running pell mell into installing cameras everywhere, we should look at how they are going to be part of the overall policing strategy for Winnipeg.

Nothing would be worse than installing a very expensive system that did not nothing to really improve the crime prevention and help reduce crime.

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