|Urban Fare Yaletown, Vancouver|
|Sobey's Urban Fresh, Jasper Avenue, Edmonton|
|Sobey's Express Roncesvalles, Toronto|
Today's Free Press had a contribution from a resident of a senior's apartment behind Portage Place who sounded the alarm.
Over the last several months, we have lost the Wagon Wheel, the Paddle Wheel, Zellers, including its grocery store, the youth hostel, the NRC Centre, and several and sundry smaller venues within the Portage Place complex.
We are fast becoming inundated with the losses.Add to that the Winnipeg Film Group and Gio's niteclub in the last day.
Now, some of this is not all negative. The Wagon Wheel makes way for a fairly expansive and innovative mixed use of offices, hotel, parking, restaurants and condos. We can be sad for the end of an era but happy about the possibilities on a boutique hotel and condos might bring.
Gio's appears to be making way for some development...possibly apartments. This is a good thing. Gio's has had a few locations over the years. The takeover of their present location was made possible by the closure of a pizza joint and the fact of so much empty land. Hard times made for a good spot to operate and the gay and lesbian community now find that their efforts to bring people downtown have made their property valuable for other urban reclamation projects.
I suspect that Gio's will find a way to come back, perhaps to some place along Portage Avenue although one blogger suggested the Free Press Cafe.
The Winnipeg Film Group is also looking to move. Part of it is expansion mode but some is not. This is what appeared in The Uniter.
...surveys have shown concerns about parking and night-time safety are preventing Winnipeggers from attending screenings.Night-time safety. Not good. I don't think theaters goers for screenings downtown are overly sensitive either.
Just one more indication that increasing the feeling of safety and security must continue.
It isn't an impossible task. The Forks is generally considered safe and not part of downtown. We need to increase that envelope of security through better lighting, more patrols and better planning.
It is easy to feel insecure and vulnerable if the lighting is poor, sight-lines are awful and where there is little pedestrian traffic.
But back to grocery stores...
We are seeing more people move downtown. Waterfront Drive now boasts a population where none existed five years ago. Hotels are being converted back to apartments and condo conversions are taking places in warehouse space and offices. New apartments are coming as well.
And yet fewer choices or no choices for grocery stores.
It seems to me that if the government ends up having to take over The Bay downtown, it would do well to go out of their freaking way to make sure that a Sobey's Express, a Safeway or any other grocer out there be located in the basement. They would probably love to be a in large government building.
Moreover, perhaps a few restaurants wouldn't mind being in the building at ground floor as well. If and when The Bay takes flight, the worst thing would be if the whole 600,000 feet becomes government offices and you need to go through security checks just to enter the parkade.
We NEED grocery stores if urban living is to succeed. Osborne Village is partly the success it is today because it has a large Safeway in the center of it.
If downtown condos can get a tax break, maybe a large new grocery store can too.
Otherwise, we are going to have a migration out of the urban areas of the city despite best intentions.