Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Deal for Kapyong Barracks Site?

Kapyong Barracks

The base has been empty since 2004 and it was in 2009 that Vic Toews said that it was a done deal that the land was going from Department of Defence to Canada Lands for development. A number of First Nations cried foul and a judge agreed that consultations were necessary as part of Treaty 1 land settlements.

However, this was not the full victory that has been characterized this week by some in the media. The judge's decision was two-fold: He said that the federal government must negotiate in good faith with First Nations and because they hadn't, the feds had to pay the legal costs for both sides. The judge also told the First Nations that their expectation of the land being handed to them directly at no cost was not explicit in the treaty arrangements. He then said the group would have to come back to the court and argue their right to land as well. To be honest, a confusing result that no one could hang their hat on.

In the end, the court told both parties to negotiate a deal and if one could not be reached, the court would hear arguments again this December.

In short, no one knows what the court was about to decide.

The First Nations could have been told they had a chance to make a deal and better luck next time or the feds could have been told they were arguing in bad faith and a deal must be struck by a certain time. And I don't think either side wanted to find out what a judge thought.

The land was once valued at $8.5 million and presently costs $2 million a year to maintain. It is in disrepair and will only get worse. Add to the cost will be site clearance and remediation efforts. Want to know what that might be like? Ask IKEA developers who are in court about what CN Rail left for them.

In the end, it looks like the First Nations are considering an offer for half the land for an urban reserve. No one knows what part of the site is being talked about. It may be this is the more affordable option if the group is buying the land.

From the city of Winnipeg's perspective, they are interested in two things right away: They want to buy land for road expansion for three lanes in each direction on Kenaston. Second, they want to sign an agreement with any First Nation development that will pay for service agreements to the land. In other words, the same settlement that property tax would cover for road, water, sewer and the like.

Understandably, there are questions about what will go up on the land and what sort of traffic might be involved. It is safe to say that and development on First Nations land is likely to center on how much return on investment will be derived from it. And to that end, expect retail and residential and maybe a hotel/casino.

Some of the commentary over the years has centered on fear and racism over what will happen to the site. I think pressure will come from First Nations themselves to make sure the site does extremely well.

Let's see if this deal happens. Some hardliners on both sides may still scuttle the talks.

Here's hoping for a solution...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Opening of IKEA

Winnipeg's IKEA snuck open Saturday for special guests. The restaurant continues to serve staff and construction people as they ready themselves for the big launch.

At night, the sign and the parking lot are lit up and people are at work even till late to meet the deadline.

As the big day nears, a lot of analysis of the development, the company and what it will mean or not mean for Winnipeg is being discussed by CBC and the Free Press. We are hearing a lot of new information attesting to the fact that the province and the city were trying to seal the deal long before the store announced they were coming.

The commentary is fair but the undertones of "Yes but..." abound both in professional coverage as well as reader comments. That's okay. Critical analysis should be afforded any public policy decision where sums of money are being spent and where people's lives are being affected.

Even with this analysis some commentary is running along the lines of this: "Sam Katz gets things done! Who cares how?" Or..."the NDP once again shows its superior management of the economy."

I expect we will lots of cheerleadingnaysaying and the like. We will also have people taking credit and those blaming.

In truth, they will all be correct.

There are a lot of things about what this deal is and what it isn't.

Here is what it is:

* A major private investment in retailing in Winnipeg totalling $400 million.
* A quick turnaround on reclaiming of rail yards abandoned by CN after 2002.
* A major traffic headache despite the $26.5 million investment in roads and intersections at Sterling Lyon and Kenaston.
* A feather in the cap for the city for getting IKEA and the crowds it can draw from far away.

Here is what it isn't:

* A civic or provincial economic strategy.

Despite how both the city and the province took credit for the Jets and how it may or may not have helped each win the elections, it didn't represent a strategy for the governments to ensure success for the future. Getting IKEA is important but not as good as having a plan to make the region economically successful all round.

* A transportation strategy for Kenaston traffic in Winnipeg.

The St. James Bridge, Kenaston between Ness and Taylor along with Kapyong Barracks and Kenaston south of Whyte Ridge to the Perimeter Highway are all in need of city, provincial and federal planning, financing and construction. If nothing is done soon, the traffic nightmares along this stretch of road will be become legendary and all those in political office will be blameworthy.

So...all in all, a few really good things and a enough bad things to make for headaches down road.

Consumer spending is the backbone to the economy right now and Manitoba has weathered better than some with people buying houses, renovations and items for their homes and family.

The arguments for and against IKEA are academic now. It is here and it is pretty undeniable that it is the cause of excitement. Nothing is likely to convince those who were opposed to the store in the beginning to like it now but you never know. I can still remember the resistance to Sunday shopping in the 1980s and how some of those who said they would never shop on that day now shop.

Things change. Notwithstanding IKEA's corporate record and haphazard city planning, it is very likely that the taxes paid by construction workers and for the supplies used in the store and roadwork has paid a significant chunk of the costs of the $26.5 million in road improvements. And if not this year then in the years ahead with having 300 employees at one store and the hundreds more who will be employed in construction, restaurants and stores in phase 2 and phase 3.

As far as IKEA's record goes, don't shop there. Or put pressure on them to do better. Some things are unforgivable for some people. My grandfather never drank Coke to the day he died because it was reserved for U.S. soldiers when he was in England as an officer during World War II. This was his choice and I understood it. I have heard similar stories of people not buying Japanese or German products due to the war.

At some point though, things change or ought to if we are to move on.

So, welcome IKEA.

We can all use some excitement and this will be an event but we can't rest on our laurels now.

That might be plainly demonstrated when we have city cops trying desperately to manage traffic the first few days.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Store and Restaurant Closing

KFC at Pembina Highway and Byng

Cosman Furniture at Princess and Ross

I often talk about store openings here but let's talk about the continued slide of KFC's fortunes in Winnipeg. It has been a couple of months since the closure of the KFC at Pembina and Byng. It would seem like it was a good location and has a drive thru but shuttered its doors like so many other fast food chicken places in the city.

It is hard to know if the trend in Winnipeg is to get your chicken as wings rather in the format of breasts, legs and larger wings or whether people are leaning towards a more casual dining experience like Swiss Chalet. Whatever the reason we have seen a steady retreat of fast food chicken joints.

I suspect the location on Pembina will be attractive to some fast food restaurant. Could this be the location of a future Harvey's? They have been looking all over the city for more locations.

Another business that closed down recently was Cosman's Furniture. They have been round a hundred years but the third generation owner has been spending time outside the province and wanted to fold the business. While the owner has said that things were going well, the business reviews have been anything but kind to the store. Now, it is hard to assess the validity of such reviews but they often refer to rudeness and disputes with the proprietor.

Cosman's leave behind a nifty little storefront. It could be the location for any number of businesses including a restaurant.

The only bad thing is the empty civic parkade that is likely going to have to be torn down if councillors ever get around to addressing that issue.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Marshalls Comes to Polo Park

Marshalls Comes to Polo Park North

The Seasons of Tuxedo is probably kicking themselves that phase 3 of their development won't be happening till later next year. There are several new malls that are competing with the large Kenaston development including the Polo North on the old Winnipeg Arena lands.

Until now, Polo North has mostly been about offices the CJOB and  Western Financial Group and their consolidation for multiple offices around town. CJOB grabbed up old CKY's building and studio and the rest of the development was slated for the space from the cleared arena.

A three story mixes use office and retail complex of 210,000 square feet has been under construction for some time. The facility will have Polo Park's first underground parking. The Western Financial Group will occupy all of the second and third stories and have a 4000 square foot window on the main floor.

The announcement that an Asian food grocery was to be on the site died a quiet death for unknown reasons.

Shindico announced today that Marshalls will open next year in 28,000 square feet of space right beside Silver City. The discount apparel maker is sister company to Winners and Home Sense. It will be the first location outside of Ontario for the U.S. based company to locate a store.

Marshalls has been on the list of retailers many Winnipeggers have wanted for fashion clothing over the years.

It joins in recent months, the arrival of Victoria Secret at Polo Park and the return of the Bombay store after an absence of a number of years. Slated to open soon is Suzy Shier, Swimco and Sirens, the last spaces to be filled before this Christmas season in the mall.

There are two more stores coming to Polo North in the next months. Without doubt there is a rush to try and nail down the best sores because of competition with Seasons of Tuxedo, the new development of the stadium site, Westport Festival and the expected announcement of Winnipeg's first factory outlet mall.

Expect more big announcements shortly.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lowe's Home Improvement and Bouclair Seasons of Tuxedo

Lowe's Home Home Improvement Plan Approved.
Bouclair Sign Approved

The ads for IKEA are coming via print and television. They are cute, informative and keep emphasizing the opening day November 28. Every day and late into the night contractors and employees are working, training, assembling and stocking the building. If I had to guess if they were going to be ready, I would say no. However, this is what they do and come hell or high water...or snow, they will open on the day they say they will.

As mentioned here and from what everyone can observe for themselves, there is a whole lot of other construction going on that is nearing completion. The building beside IKEA is going through finishing touches. Although no official announcement has been made by the developer, it is now confirmed that Bouclair has applied to the city for two signs on the exterior of the building.

This is Bouclair's first Winnipeg location and they are a home decorating store so being this close to  IKEA is probably beyond their dreams.

The other store that has not officially announced they are coming but has submitted plans to the city is Lowe's Home Improvement. No word on when they will be built but sometime in 2013 is the word.

The opening date for Cabela's in May of 2013 but they are moving along so swiftly that it this could change.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ikea Sign

Zombies Attack Winnipeg

Zombie Attack Started on Mountain Avenue, October 31, 2012... recovered footage

These reports were culled from tweets, emails, blogs and other online stories. Much of the mass media missed the earlier story as they were covering the IKEA opening across town.

* Tweet: Wow, just saw the police tape go up near Mom and Dad's Grocery on Mountain. Either that is blood all over or they had a sale on ketchup! #JustTypicalWinnipeg

* Tweet: I saw at least five or six bodies there. Cops all over the place! Ambulances took away a few of the injured.  This would never happen in Tuxedo. #WinnipegMurderCity

* Text: Mom, trapped in car on Main. Traffic backed up. Near Mountain and crime scene. Ick, get me out of here!

* Email:  I know you said the area would become the new Osborne but I don't remember the village having so many people aimlessly walking the streets.

* Tweet: Still trapped in traffic on Main. Going to miss IKEA opening. :( WTF, some guy on stretcher attacking cops!

* Blog: North End True Crime The police only got involved this morning with the attack on Main but as I reported a few days ago, there has been strange goings on in the neighbourhood all week. Every night from my basement window I see people shambling about and moaning. I know I have seen people lying out there in the night but in the morning they are gone! Thank goodness I have bars on the window. Every night someone has tried to get in.

* Tweet: A mob is attacking the police! Stuck in traffic on Main! #WinnipegRiot #StuckTrafficWinnipeg

* Email: I am hiding in a hospital clerk's office. It started this morning but it probably went on for some time before we knew about it. The ambulances from last night had to wait in the bays for hours to discharge their patients. We don't triage bite patients till more serious emerg people are dealt with first. When our security guard did open up the doors a flood of people rushed the door including paramedics! It was a mob attack! I still hear screaming far off. I don't dare open the door. I called the police but all I get is a fast busy signal. I called virology too because this looks like a blood borne infection. But what could do something like this?

* Blog: Politics in Winnipeg It is a full scale disaster in Winnipeg and the Mayor Sam Katz is at his home in Arizona. The Emergency Response Centre is being commanded by the only Councillor who could make it is: Jenny Gerbasi. She gave this surprising announcement: Shoot for the head! Some commentary I saw in tweets says she has alienated many of her NDP colleagues with her violent outburst. NDP activists have sent a humanitarian team to what is being called an "infected area."

* Tweet: Trapped in schoolbus surrounded by dead people. #SchoolSucks

* Blog: True North End Crime: It would appear that the NDP delegation was eaten.

* Tweet: You heard it here first. These are zombies. I am with Gerbasi: Shoot for the Head! #ShootForHead

* Email: We are using garbage containers as barricades! Since they have not been picked up for days, the garbage makes us smell like the dead.

* Blog: Politics in Winnipeg: Greg Selinger and the NDP issue news release that they won't interfere in what is a city matter. Selinger departed thereafter for a trade trip to Outer Mongolia.

* Tweet: The only safe place is downtown since no people are there! #Doughnut City

* Email: It looks like a herd of zombies is moving south. Could they be headed south for the winter?

 * Tweet: Trying to escape on rapid transit but we're all stuck here at Confusion Corner. #ConfusionCorner

* Blog: University Stud: I wasn't aware of the zombie attacks and quite frankly, I don't care. I'm not interested in politics.

* Tweet: The zombies are in Osborne Village! But first must get tights at American Apparel.

* Blog: In the Village: It appears the zombies have attacked the Osborne Inn and the fetish ball! Ooo, fishnet zombies.

* Tweet: Just saw Jenny Gerbasi atop a patrol car. Wow, she can really shoot. #ShootForHead

* Tweet: Zombies spotted in Polo Park! Trapped in Zellers! Wow, nice liquidation sale.

* Blog: Southie: It appears Jon Gerrard has the best approach to this zombie problem but can't a seconder in the Legislature. Plus, media attention is all on IKEA opening.

* Email: The zombies have crossed into southern and western Winnipeg. After some initial confusion about how to navigate the swirly streets of St. James, the zombie just headed down Portage Avenue and overwhelmed the evacuees as they tried to get on the Perimeter Highway.

* Tweet: Zombies speeding through River Heights. The traffic circles are jammed with cars and bikes!

* Blog; Southie: The reporters have their backs turned away from the zombies as they cover the IKEA opening. They are eating the reporters! Oh, the humanity.


Shortly after this phone and Internet was cut off from Winnipeg.