Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bits and Bites

Globosapiens Used Bookstore in their new location on Portage (top picture) and old one on Roblin (bottom picture)

Last year Globosapiens Used Bookstore closed on Roblin Boulevard. Thought it was gone for good but it took over the spot on Portage Avenue once the location of The Chronicle, a hemp shop. Don't know what the quality of the bookstore is but any used book store is good for the city.

Sydney Morning Herald travel column

I had meant to talk about this a couple of time and it was once again mentioned in brief in the Free Press in the last weeks about the Sydney Morning Herald.

Unlike a lot of travel column writers, the Australian writer did not come for the main attractions like museum or a festival. He came for the flavour of the city. That is not something easy to see for someone to find.

How do we define ourselves? What are we proud of? What attractions do we love and want to show off?

Going downtown is not going to wow someone unless they are at The Forks or attending an event like Fringe. The downtown can be desolate place a lot of the time. I can't tell you how many times people have mentioned how empty it seems or how threatening it is.

The place our intrepid travel found to be the real Winnipeg was found in Osborne Village.

As a backpacker, our traveller says this:

So what does Winnipeg have going for it? On the surface, not much. This is a city that counts a difficult intersection (the aptly named Confusion Corner) as a famous landmark, which should tell you all you need to know.

The tourist brochures would point you towards the Manitoba Museum, an undoubtedly interesting collection of artifacts and historical pieces in the town centre. But I'm not much of a museum goer, so that was only going to keep me amused for a couple of hours.

Sooo, no museums for our fellow. Guess Human Rights Museum wouldn't rank high either.

Not all travellers will be be attracted to such things.

So off to Osborne Village our reporter went:

But help was at hand. That friend I once travelled with was still living in Winnipeg and she'd offered to meet up for a drink. We were going to Osborne Village, she said, the artsy, creative side of Winnipeg that I only realized existed after I was told we were meeting there.

And that's when Winnipeg started to make sense.

You know how dodgy, rundown suburbs seem to become cool over time? How places such as Surry Hills in Sydney used to be no-go zones until the artists and musicians moved in and suddenly the people who wanted to be around artists and musicians followed suit?

Winnipeg is on the cusp of that transition. It was never dodgy - just dull. But it was also cheap and the government offered incentives for creative types to move in, so the artists and musicians packed up their vans, tackled Confusion Corner and settled down on the prairies, completely changing the city's landscape.

There have been a few people who mention how the Shopper's Drug Mart will destroy this unique culture. I don't particularly buy it. A displaced video rental store and one restaurant won't do it.

Having said that, a well designed multi-story Shopper's could have addressed a few concerns about diversity, density and design.

Is it too late? Would have loved a Vi-Ann overlooking Osborne from above. And a Movie Village could have found a home in that concept as well.

Anyway, all is not lost. Osborne Village is a work in progress and people continue to want to live there. And that is a good thing.

Our reporter had this to say in the end.

It would probably shock the customs guy as much as the rest of Canada, but the city I found is not just cold - it's cool. Who'd have thought?

Not James Turner but he might know the guy

James Turner has been a reporter in Winnipeg since 2005. He has bounced around from one media group to another but is now at the Winnipeg Sun. Good reporter. Too bad he can't do the headlines as well since the stories are good, the headlines cringeworthy.

There is no truth to the rumour that he is creating the Turnerington Post.

Academy Road, Bejeweled and Frenchway

Some closures of businesses on Academy Road. Bejeweled, across the Street from Starbucks is shut down. Likewise, Frenchway restaurant.

Both have been around for a couple of years.

Charitable Giving

We have seen a number of stories of charitable giving in the last years from gifts to the universities to hospitals to the human rights museum.

The Silverberg's gift to the Jewish Foundation which in turn will gift others such as the Humane Society and Manitoba Branch of the Cancer Society will be lifetime contributions. The $8.5 million will go far.

Similarly, the contribution by Laurie Johnson, a retired pharmacist of $1 million split between Riverview Health Center and Misericordia Health Centre is a remarkable gift.

I contribute monthly to the Winnipeg Foundation. I hope that when I am long gone, my family will be deciding on what things in Winnipeg to fund in perpetuity.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Seasons of Tuxedo

Seasons of Tuxedo from SPINE on Vimeo.

It has been busy in terms of Kenaston Route 90 and the IKEA/Seasons of Tuxedo site.

Two separate announcements but related in every way. The first is that there is a video showing what Seasons of Tuxedo will look like. Yes, it will be different from a lot of malls: It will have traffic circles. Most likely they will work better than the ones in River Heights.

As far as malls go, it resembles what Polo Park once was which was a mall with open air components. At 1.5-million-square-foot commercial feet, the site will rival Polo Park. The 395,000 square foot IKEA is proceeding well. Lots of construction on site and the opening remains fall of 2012.

Seasons of Tuxedo is slated for 2014 or 2015. If I had to guess the first components might be earlier than that. For example....a movie theatre complex. My view is there might be a race on to capture the new market with three malls forecast in the near future: Seasons of Tuxedo, the new mall west of Assiniboia Downs and the stadium site at Polo Park. Add to that the proposed factory outlet mall with no start up date or location announced for Winnipeg yet.

As this all goes on, Kenaston creaks and cracks. A city committee has targeted houses for purchase to expand to 6 lanes of Route 90 traffic. Keep in mind that there is no budget to purchase, no plan for the St. James bridge, no timetable on the Kapyong Barracks and no end in site to probably the most expensive traffic corridor in the history of city of Winnipeg.

Helllo? IKEA is in a few months. Hundreds of houses are being built every few months in Waverley West.

Danger, Will Robinson!

Think we need a tri-level meeting of government now as this is problem that will go boom. It is already going boom.

Anyways, nice mall by the looks of it. Too bad the best traffic management is probably inside the site itself.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winnipeg Free Press - Rate Your Journalist Part 1

The Free Press is the paper of record for the city of Winnipeg.

There are some excellent writers and there are some that tend to make some readers crazy as they read. I will list those writers and editorial staff according to the the paper's own biographies listed. Some I have an opinion about, some I don't know what they do as it might be setting editorial policy in the background. I know many of you will have an opinion about the writers.

Have at it:



Bob Cox, publisher

He has been a reporter and editor for the Free Press and publisher since 2007. He has had a few columns over the years. They seem random in that they cover a wide variety of topics from the personal to local and national.

Nothing wrong with that per se. I would love a "paper-making" column that explained the nuts and bolts of how the Free Press operated in every capacity. I'd love once a week but every month would be improvement over nothing at all.

A publisher is responsible for a profitable paper but also for carrying out a direction that the owners establish. What is that editorial policy in general? Do we have a mission statement? Is their a political angle? Are the owner's politics known? Is the publisher's?

Who is the publisher responsible for in terms of hiring and firing and why? Can we find out more? It isn't very transparent. And I can imagine the Free Press would be asking those questions of business and government. We need to hear how the publisher handles these crucial issues. Certainly, I'd love to know in a general way how things get decided.

There was a documentary on the New York Times recently. It was enlightening. It would be good for the Free Press to have a regular feature in the paper showing what was behind the curtain.

The opening of the Free Press Cafe downtown was innovative. I have not been there yet but it is a good way to reach out. Would like to see more.

There are some that have criticized the Free Press for not looking more closely at construction of the human rights museum early on. The issue of being a promoter of such projects is being questioned as interfering with analyzing of said projects as they develop. It seems clear at the moment that the museum might be in a spot of trouble. Some people were pointing out for a while that this might be happening.

So what is the view of other people on the publisher? As I've said, I want to know more about what happens at the paper and explanations of why it does what it does and sometimes a more focused look on what it hasn't done well in the past or present.

Margo Goodhand, editor

She has had many firsts in her career. She still posts regular columns of a variety of subjects. She takes credit as well for the News Cafe. The Community News Commons is still not up yet though according to the website. Could be good, no way tell yet.

The site is here.

Some critics have said that the Free Press editor was too quick to jump on criticism from some of its detractors, specifically The Great Canadian Talk Show. Freedom of Information requests have provoked questions.

It seems to me that the Free Press had nothing to fear from pokes at being the paper of record and might have even done well to allow their reporters the ability to respond. Chances are that lines of communication would have shed light on news gathering, reporting and opinion. And all of this might have been done with humour, humility and gentility.

Differences of opinion will exist. That's fine. No need to be defensive.

As with the publisher, I think we need to see more of an explanation of how the news operation works. Regular informed commentary would be huge to that end.

As far as the direction the paper takes, it seems to me that the paper could stand to address the issue of a makeover where each section of the paper might be re-done. Better pictures, graphics and news bulletins would be welcome. I have no idea when certain columns run. Tell me.

I would love to see a finer, sober thinking approach to Sundays. Can't we have the View From The West there?

More guest columns and bloggers, please.

Is a columnist shuffle out of the question? We have seen a few shifts from Ottawa to Manitoba and Arts to City Hall. If a columnist can switch to a new portfolio or take on a certain role for a while, it can be amazing journalism. Some great pet columns came from Bruce Owen.

Would love to see the whole team come aboard for things like elections. It should be a full court press from humour columns, general columns, sports columns, TV and arts columns and business columns. I can't help think that a story about a treehouse could have waited till after the election.

I think I wrote to the editor directly one time about the lack of inclusion of screenwriters in movie reviews. I am happy to say that I notice that the writer or writers are included in reviews. If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage.

So what are people's views on the editor? I want to know more, see more, expect more.

The Free Press is not going down for citizen reporting via tweets. It won't. And with other media struggling or folding and city forums ending or other city media folding like Sandbox, the Free Press will be looked to as a continued paper of record.

I hope it steps up even in light of a lesser local competition in providing news.

to be continued...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Don Percy Back on Winnipeg Radio

Ever wonder where Stan Kubicek and Don Percy ever went to?

Until the conversion of 1290 to TSN Sports Radio, Don Percy was spinning oldies.

I wondered back then if he would land a job in the multitude of radio stations in the city.

Well, looks like he has found a home at Breeze along with Stan Kubicek.

At 100.7, Breeze is not exactly tearing up the charts. Bringing in Don Percy will get noticed and the newspaper ads certainly indicate they think he has a fan base.

It is hard to keep up with the changing formats of 100.7. It was The Lounge over Christmas, HANK FM before that and Cafe 100.7.

Way back, it was nostalgia radio.

New ownership has come out with a little spirit. The Evanov Group started up Energy 106 to poke an eye at Hot 103. Until very recently, it must have been quite clear that 103 had the top 40 pop hip hop market to itself. Not anymore. Interestingly, it looks like the intention was to call 106, The Jewel before settling on Energy.

Now we are seeing an attempt to move into 102.3 Clear FM's territory for another Evanov property. Breeze has probably got a long way to move past the Rogers owned station but you never know.

The complaints on Winnipeg radio are many. Never has so much been offered in such a limited range. We'll see if anyone breaks from the pack.

It will be interesting to see the new radio ratings and whether TSN Radio is big.

In any event, welcome back to two Winnipeg broadcasters.

Friday, January 6, 2012

List Time - Top Posts of 2011

I am a little late in getting up lists for 2011. It was quite a busy final weeks to the end of the end and it remains fairly busy.

My top viewed posts generally revolved around commercial enterprises that are opening in the city. Without doubt, the top post by far was on Swiss Chalet. Menards takes up two slots as well as a post I did on black and white police cars. Who knew the cars would be so fascinating.

I have no idea why my top 10 book list from last year continues to get hits each week.

I have two posts that are joke posts on Harper and Martha Stewart which gets hits each week.

The rest of the list is filled with store openings.

I think some of my Charleswood stuff has to limited an audience.

Anyway, on to the list...

Swiss Chalet Returns to Winnipeg
Mar 27, 2011, 24 comments

8,845 Pageviews

Menards - Deliveries to Winnipeg
Dec 6, 2010, 2 comments

2,804 Pageviews

List Time - Top Manitoba Books
Dec 23, 2010

2,565 Pageviews

Menards Coming To Winnipeg - Sort Of
Nov 24, 2010, 2 comments

2,355 Pageviews

Martha Stewart Gets Too Close To Polar Bear
Nov 6, 2010, 2 comments

2,143 Pageviews

Black and White Police Car Models - After Crown Vi...
Nov 24, 2010, 4 comments

1,363 Pageviews

Black and White Police Cars
Jul 5, 2010, 2 comments

1,338 Pageviews

Harper Talks About Pulling Out
Apr 1, 2011

1,317 Pageviews

Coach Store Coming to Winnipeg
May 15, 2011

1,202 Pageviews

Aeropostale Opening in Winnipeg

May 6, 2011

933 Pageviews