Monday, September 30, 2013

DJ Funky T - Jump Around Sesame Street

Could Conservatives Lose Brandon Souris?

It seems unthinkable.

The Conservatives were confident to the point of arrogance that the byelection in Brandon-Souris would be a walk in the park. The only question seemed to be who would win the nomination to replace Merv Tweed, the man who stepped down to take over Omnitrax in Canada.

The concern that Tweed's departure before his term was over and the fact that he took a job at a company he had regulatory control of seemed not to phase anyone. There a few worthwhile candidates stepped up. Brandon's deputy mayor Len Isleifson, Merv Tweed's former assistant Chris Kennedy and Progressive Conservative MLA for Arthur-Virden Larry Maguire.

It is a mystery how it happened but Isleifson and Kennedy were disqualified in favour of Larry Maguire as the Conservative candidate. The result of this has been bitterness and suspicion.

Killarney-Turtle Mountain Mayor Rick Pauls has announced he is running as an independent Conservative because of disgust with his party over the nomination.

A byelection is a different animal than a general election and sometimes voter turnout and local issues play a strong role in what the outcome is.

The Conservative Government has a record now in office and some of it has hurt their credibility, not the least of which is the steady stream of Conservatives who have run into trouble lately in the Senate. The fact that Stephen Harper chose many of them as reformers can't easily be played down.

Normally all of this would be noise in a riding that has selected conservative leaning candidates for decades. There is an exception of course. That would be 1993 when Liberal Glen McKinnon defeated PC Larry Maguire (yes, the same Larry Maguire) because of an unpopular PC party and a split vote with Reform.

In 1993, the landscape of Manitoba was total defeat for ALL conservative leaning candidates. There were 13 of 14 Liberals victories and only Bill Blaikie of the NDP held onto his his Transcona seat.

The Harper Tories are not nearly in the same state as back in 1993 but they do face a slide in support, a possible split vote and a stronger Liberal candidate in Rolf Dinsdale.

The Dinsdale name is well known in the region. The father and grandfather of the candidate were both prominent Progressive Conservatives. The father, Walter Dinsdale, held the Brandon riding for 32 years. The grandfather, George Dinsdale, was mayor of Brandon and was MLA in the Manitoba legislature for the riding.

Rolf Dinsdale recently moved back from Toronto to Brandon where he was involved in various media and business enterprises. There is some controversy involving his statement that he was an executive for Facebook when in fact he guided sales for the company through a Canadian facilitator. There is also the rock band he has been involved with which is rather profane.

Will this be enough to discourage people? Maybe. But a front page Brandon Sun shows very popular Conservative Rick Borotsik with a Trudeau lapel pin beside Dinsdale.

I am no expert on the Brandon region and their feelings come this byelection. However, it does seem clear that some Tories are unhappy and that never bodes well between general elections.

The impossible might just happen in Brandon.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

JETS SALUS- Winnipeg Jets Anthem

Winnipeg Jets 2013/2014

This weekend the Winnipeg Jets hockey team is doing something they have not done before: They are having a meeting in Banff to do a bit of team building. On Monday afternoon, the roster has to be pared down from 26 to 23. In a surprise move, management has held off on making the cuts possibly to let the three who are cut to continue bonding with the team and to let them know, they will no doubt be called in an instant if needed.

Given the injuries of last year, the ability for the team to plug holes in the line-up are paramount.

The pre-season was really the first time that Jets owners and managers were able to bring in all possible prospects drafted, invited and signed to be put through training and to see what they were made of. Patient development will reap some later rewards with a number of these players.

Some players were lost over the off season. Hainsey, Antropov and Burmistrov are all gone to other teams. In the case of Burmistrov, he was unhappy and headed to the Kontinental rather than stay. Antropov also went to the K.

Hainsey to a haircut in free agency on his pay and left for another team. No indication of whether Jets even negotiated for him to stay. Santorelli also came and went on free agency.

Of course this opens opportunities in positions and salary space.

Some of the toughest decisions will come on defence where Jacob Trouba, the 2012 first round choice demonstrated to maturity and poise.

At first glance, it would seem Pardy and Postma and Redmond could be sent down for the defence but lingering injuries from other starters might change that.

On the forwards, it is another tough choice but Peluso, Cormier, Frolik and Halischuk are probably being talked about. Once again lingering injuries might give then team flexibility about what happens.

A few things seem certain though: Scheifele and Trouba have earned positions on the team. Setoguchi was a good off season pick up.

We need a solid two lines. Will Jokinen have a better season or will Schiefele be a better fit with Kane and Setoguchi? Or will the decision right out of the gate be to out Schiefele in that mix?

The 1-4-3 record in pre-season was nothing to write home about. But pre-season ought to be the time for a team to see what they have in the system and not worry about chalking up wins that don't count in the standings.

It is unlikely going to make anyone happy if that is what our standings look like for the month of October in regular season.

We are in a very tough division this year. We need to improve power play and goals against average. Pavelec wants to play every game. He won't and he can't. Montoya can't sit on the bench all season and then be thrust into things if Pavelec gets hurt, is sick or is struggling.

Where will the fans be in all of this? To be sure, the boo birds will be watching Jokinen. If he continues to struggle, he will draw sharp focus before a lot of other players do.

A few more times of Enstrom crumbling in a corner and fans might be thinking what other options lay on defence.

In terms of coaching, this will be the year to see of Noel will be able to get the players to buy in on a system. It worked on penalty killing. Let's see if it works on power play and goals against average.

In terms of ownership, they have expressed faith in the Cheveldayoff. This most recent draft was considered excellent by most outside observers. And two of our top drafts might be on the team this year. Not bad.

We have not made any blockbuster trades and given the salary cap, it will be a wait and see. We have not been too bad on picking up players on waivers.

The owners have been trying to enhance the experience of coming to a Jets game with more options just outside the building. The Shark Club will be a welcome revenue generator for the organization as well as entertainment component all by itself with the casino. Across the street, the Alt Hotel and two restaurants are well under construction. They will be a welcome addition in 2014.

The people of Winnipeg love their hockey. They want their team to play hard every game and without a doubt want to get into the play-offs. This year's success will be measured by improving our standings and results in all areas. I don't think anyone is expecting a Stanley Cup.

Let the season begin.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Winnipeg at 1,000,000 - With 300,000 More People

In 20 years time, Winnipeg is expected to hit the one million mark in terms of population in the metropolitan area. The CBC is conducting a forum to determine what the city might look like with an additional 300,000 people.

First, let be said that the population growth is a projection and not a fact. However, given historical growth in the city's population, it is a safe bet to say Winnipeg will one day be a million people. It might happen earlier and it might happen later but it is going to happen.

Our population will grow through migration, immigration and birth rate. There are just under 400 cities in the world with over 1 million people. It helps to look at how they developed.

In almost all cases, the cities infrastructure grew higher, denser but also more spread out, especially in North America. It is only natural obstacles that limit the spread. In Toronto's case, Lake Ontario prevents further growth south. In Vancouver's case, it is ocean and mountains.

There are no natural boundaries for Winnipeg. Rivers are easily crossed. We only have man-made obstacle to population growth. The Winnipeg International Airport can be regarded as the only obstacle for population growth in the northwest quadrant of the city. This is unlikely to change.

The massive construction of Centreport Canada in the same area will keep the area industrial and transport related for decades to come.

So in point form, I will indicate what I believe will be what we see in 20 years.

* Immigration will continue to help shape Winnipeg's future. The provincial program will help channel people in at about 10,000 a year. A few world crisis will contribute refugees to Winnipeg. Those events will range from disaster to economics to politics to conflict. The Philippines, China and India will contribute large numbers. However, Winnipeg universities will tap into the UK and start bringing increasing numbers of students in who will eventually stay. Germany and Russia will supply steady numbers. Africa will be source of a steady number. The biggest surprise will be the ever increasing numbers of Hispanic people from Mexico to Central and South America.

* Migration will affect Winnipeg when population grows older. People living in rural areas who have health problems involving heavier use of medical community will look to Winnipeg. Downsizing from larger houses in the countryside requiring care in winter as snowbirds take to southern climates will result in more people buying condos and houses in Winnipeg. Exurbia will be less desireable all around if house size becomes unwieldy of if too far from vital services.

First Nations will see more of their people move to Winnipeg for school, jobs opportunities or to be with other family members.

Rural Manitoba will see larger farms and fewer people needed. Migration to Winnipeg will increase as a result.

* More First Nations urban economic zones will open. They won't look very different from other retail centers or residential. The Kapyong Barracks will not end up in First Nations or Metis hands. They won't be noted for housing a growing aboriginal population.

* Birth rate: The proportion births to First Nation and Metis will continue to be high. However, some of the more religious communities in the city from Africa or Asian will also have higher birth rates. Better government supports in the forms of school daycare, parental leave will result in a mini baby boom all around.

* More First Nations women will get higher education than First Nations men over the next 20 years. The first of the higher educated and higher paid women will start moving to various neighbourhoods away from the North End. Unlike other ethnic groups, they don't congregate in certain wealthier areas but all over.

* Pembina Highway will be the home of the Chinese business and cultural community. Fort Richmond will see a mall converted to the largest Asian food store and several Asian retailers.

* South Pointe will continue to see many East Indian families move into the area. A transformation of some of the retail to serve that market will take place in the Bridgwater commercial area. There will also be a southward migration of East Indian families from north the south of the city but it will be mitigated by immigration from India and surrounding areas.

* The downtown around Central Park becomes the epi-centre for much of the growing African community. The result is more shops and restaurants.

* The Exchange District sees more of a South American flavour take hold at least restaurant-wise.

* The tallest building in the downtown of the city will be around 60 stories and a mixed use residential, office and retail building. It will be accompanied by around four or five similar sized buildings downtown mostly of the same make-up. The skyline will be filled with several 20 floor stucture, mostly housing.

* Density in buildings down Portage Avenue, Main Street, Kenaston, Pembina Highway, Henderson Highway and McPhillips will increase.

* The 500 buses in the Winnipeg Transit fleet in 2013 will re-deployed as more Light Rail Transit is put into place. Eventually, a new tri-government strategy  will connect downtown to the University of Manitoba wilth LRT. Several denser neighbourhoods will result in Fort Rouge Yards and the Parker Lands.

* Other legs of LRT will develop. The most successful being the downtown to Polo Park and Airport, the Main Street LRT and the last to built LRT to St. Boniface.

* The St. James Bridge will be re-done as two spans in one of the most beautiful bridge designs in North America after an open competition world-wide that asks to incorporate gateways to Academy Road, Wellington Crescent and Kenaston. It will serve as a beautification gateway to the airport and Polo Park down Route 90. Included will be pedestrian and bike paths, amazing lighting and gorgeous features.

* More bike paths will be constructed along their own dedicated routes often using old rail tracks. New city rules will push for sidewalks in every new neighbourhood and connectivity to other parts of the city in 20 years.

* More pedestrian and running trails in the city.

* Crime in Winnipeg will decline in some areas with reductions in fetal alcohol. However, some areas will continue to struggle. The Winnipeg Foundation along with a tri-government initiative called the North End X Team (NEXT 2030) will expand community enhancement using police, schools, housing, business development and recreation to break cycles leading to crime and poverty.

* The Public Safety Building will be converted into an urgent care center with 24 pharmacy, X-ray, blood testing, kidney center and new home to the Mount Carmel Clinic who will keep the old location as a satellite for family medicine. A new 1000 car civic parkade will be built as with offices attaches for The Parking Authority and the Police Cadets.

* Winnipeg's airport will continue to rise as a cargo hub but more direct flights will occur to a rise in fuel efficient smaller jet aircraft. Porter Airlines will fly Winnipeggers directly to Toronto Island Airport. Direct flights to cities like Los Angeles will enable more Hollywood filming to take place in Winnipeg.

* Oil fracking in western Manitoba will benefit Winnipeg manufacturing and services who expand to help provide service to a booming North Dakota and Saskatchewan.

* Polo Park will add a third floor to the mall and build a parking deck and a hotel atop on the west side. Sears will have long closed for a Nordstrom. Food court would move to the third floor. Silver City will close as the theatres move into the mall to make way for the new parking deck.

* St. Vital will expand to two floors with parking decks added on all four sides. Sears will have long closed in favour of Sak's Fifth Avenue store, one of seven in Canada.

* Portage Place mall will close in favour of offices, some casual dining restaurants and residential units. The parkade will be sold in exchange for two two towers built on on eat and west pads.

*City Place will see the Shark Club become a full sports casino taking over the entire second floor. The ground floor will be a mix of retail and restuarants.

* The richest neighbourhood in Winnipeg will be Wilkes South from McCreary to the Perimeter Highway. It will feature Winnipeg's first gated community and country club.

* The older but hot neighbourhoods will be Sherbrook and points east, St. James from Polo Park heading west. All the streets between Osborne Village and Corydon, Point Douglas, old Transcona, old Fort Garry, McPhillips, Riverview and Charleswood. Affordability will play a strong role in rejuvenation.

* The poorest neighbourhood will still be north of the CPR tracks.

*Some neighbourhoods close to the river from Main eastward will start a rejuvenation. Waterfront development will push out old industrial concerns. Metal scrapyard, gypsum plants and others will head out to Brookside/Route 90 as a designated choice for re-location. Point Douglas will see condos and apartments go up along the river in old industry areas.

* The goal of a river walk will proceed very slowly northward in the next 20 years and very slowly southward.

* The Manitoba Museum will expand north of Rupert, building a new science museum with underground connection to main building complex.

* The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and Pantages will share a parkade and development between their two buildings.

* The Winnipeg Jets, Bombers and Goldeyes will be joined by a professional soccer team, lacrosse team and Western Hockey League franchise over the next 20 years.

* Education in Winnipeg will have full time nursery and Kindergarten programs in its three school divisions, two English and one French. It will help spur a bit of a baby boom and parents feel more supported in childhood development.

* The University of Manitoba at 30,000 in 2013 is very likely to be around 5000 students larger in keeping with cities of similar size. In 2033, it will be 35,000 students.

* The University of Winnipeg at 10,000 in 2013 is likely to be around 13,000 in 2033.

* Red River College will around 8000 students in 2013 will explode to 15,000 at any given time and over 50,000 in a year through various programming.

* Universite de Saint-Boniface which has 1300 student now will have 3000 students in 2033 and be the largest French university in the west.

* Canadian Mennonite University at 1800 students now will be the 5000 student in 20 year and the largest Mennonite university in the world. They will buy the Tuxedo Golf Course for further expansion and build a large fieldhouse and sports complex as well as additonal classroom, dorm and a school of music.

* Headingley and Rosser will be absorbed into the city.

I will keep adding to this over the next days.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Grant Park Shopping Mall 3

Target Opening Soon
This coming week Grant Park Shopping Centre starts to re-surface their parking lot outside the Target. Things are getting close for the opening of the store.

Meanwhile, inside the mall, the roof has been blown off for sunlit portals to bring in some natural light in.

One of the New Portals
The Modern Taco Company expands beyond Academy Road and opens beside McNally Robinson soon. Access is from outside the mall.

It has been years of construction but in the end, Grant Park Shopping Centre has been transformed.

It has always been a bit of a hodge podge despite expansions and modernizations over the years.

There seems to more of a flow from one end of the mall to the other after this major initative.

Despite this major completion, the mall still has question marks regarding two anchors. Will the Safeway close, be re-branded or sold? Will Empire Theatres modernize, be closed or turned to a discount movie house?

The Target which opens soon will be southwest Winnipeg's first and the store will under severe scrutiny comparing it to the U.S. experience. One suspects that Target Canada's executives know they won't be able to underperform for very long. Somehow, Target needs to find the same success that Costco and Walmart have found in Canada.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Anybody Want a Peanut? Closes

The blog Anybody Want a Peanut? announced it was winding down. After six years, he believed it had run its course. During that time, he was funny, insightful and had fun goofing around. The blog will be truly missed.

Quite a few long form blogs have ended their runs with some of the writers joining the 140 chararcter Twitter-verse. Others have simply faded away to do other things.

I like long form writing. I need long form writing.

I did actually learn what the bottom line was for Anybody Want A Peanut though. It was just last week that he looked at his bookshelves and saw the entire collection of Game Of Thrones box sets still sitting in plastic wrap unopened and unseen. He said to himself: Sonofabitch! and then promptly wrote his last blog post.

No more staring at the blank screen thinking profound things and struggling word by word to be clever. For him, the next weeks were going to be a bag of cheesies and dressed like a Stark, he said Winter is Coming.

Peanut is not the only blogger to realize that other things had been left to whither and die as they sat in front of a blank screen. In fact, there have been several.

One Man Committee took up smoking a pipe, wearing bow ties and reading the entire John Le Carre collection. Although he is loath to tell anyone, he has been working as an international spy for the last little while.

Endless Spin Cycle which ended a few years ago was just at the beginning of a hugely successful life as a champion video poker player. Said writer is now filthy rich and spends only a little bit of time in Winnipeg as he spends time learning to drive F1 racecars.

Progressive Winnipeg ended and the writer there has just completed a world tour of public chalk drawings as well as written as expose about how Putin is responsible for the death of bees around the world.

It is not all good for former bloggers. Waverley West's writer is still on the run. Last heard about a year ago knocking over a Piggly Wiggly in Armpit, Arkansas, he is apparently hiding out somewhere in the Ozarks where is investigative report is nearly complete. I just know it is going to be a blockbuster.

There has been treason amongst some bloggers. State of the City and Policy Frog said no pay, no play. Want to hear what they think, you must pay them. However, it must be working as they have moved to very large houses in southwest Winnipeg and both joined the Manitoba Club as movers and shakers. We should all be so lucky.

Fat Arse slowed his contributions because embarrassingly, he lost weight.  He now works out in the gym twice a day as is now known as Phat Arse.

Hacks and Wonks is no longer around but the writer there has become an accomplished yodeler. He still contributes to Twitter and if you have a great imagination, you can hear the yodels within his 140 characters.

I still write long form. The blog gets between 16,000 and 25,000 visits a month. I continue to write about various things and don't generally think it can be said in one or two sentences.

I am hoping more long form writing takes place but feel it might not unless something like a magazine like Spacing sets up shop in the city. An alternative newspaper would be good. I just don't see it happening anytime soon.

I miss the absent blogs terribly.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ridgewood South

I have waited a bit to comment on Charleswood's Ridgewod South development. There was a lot of noise but no substantial plans till now.

It is a thin sliver of south Charleswood inside of Wilkes as it widens out as a triangle to the Perimeter Highway. Altogether it is 800 acres (325 hectares) and has over 100 different owners, it is Qualico that is trying to shepherd the process through city hall.

The site potentially could have 2,400 to 4000 home and possibly as many 5,700 to 8,800 people along a 6 kilometer stretch.

There have been various hearings in the community and several assurances gives in regards to keeping the characteristics of Charleswood intact.

The timeline of the project is 15 years and done in 11 phases.

There is no budget for road expansion in the area. None of this will work if the Willian R. Clement Parkway is not expanded to Wilkes Avenue for between $60 and $80 million. There also needs to improvements all along Wilkes, Shaftesbury Blvd and a whole host of other streets.

Agreement seems to be in place about recreation use and the Harte Trail. The developers also agree to leaving 10% of land with outstanding natural features intact. Lots of walking and active transportation routes will be in place. There will be no additional schools.

The issue of water drainage and natural habitat is a difficult one. There is little doubt that further discussion will occur on this subject alone.

However, first and foremost if the traffic along Wilkes and through Charleswood will grow by a lot. And I mean a lot.

And so it goes...development planned and now approved in the last week and no logistics plan to connect the neighbourhoods to the main routes plus no budget for roads and infrastrcuture.

The site is one quarter the six of Waverley West but like its southern counterpart, the issue of Kenaston, Wilkes, Sterling Lyon continue to grow and grow. More and more traffic.

My initial impression of the development is that it is good. It fills a need, it looks to infill the backside of a neighbourhood, creates a little more density, will fed existing schools, preserve trail and character of the area, is near existing bus routes.

However...and it is a big however, Wilkes can't handle the traffic. Nor will Grant be able to handle more. Shaftesbury and Elmhurst are already under strain.

Something's gotta give.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Let the River Run (Working Girl Theme) - Carly Simon

We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
Let all the dreamers
Wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Silver cities rise,
The morning lights
The streets that meet them,
And sirens call them on
With a song.

It's asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

We the great and small
Stand on a star
And blaze a trail of desire
Through the dark'ning dawn.

It's asking for the taking.
Come run with me now,
The sky is the color of blue
You've never even seen
In the eyes of your lover.

Oh, my heart is aching.
We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

It's asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
Let all the dreamers
Wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Defunct Chain Restaurants in Winnipeg

Mr. Steak circa 1970s
Winnipeg has many restaurants local and chain over the years. We have seen some local institutions hang up the aprons in recent years.

But what of the chain restaurants?

In the 1970s, we had Mr. Steak which gave Winnipeggers a first taste of a chain restaurant steakhouse. The location on Pembina Highway beyond the University of Manitoba seemed like one of the last stops before the end of town.

During the heyday of the Winnipeg Jets, Chi-Chi's at Polo Park used to pack them in. A few locations graced the city but fell one by one over the years. Chi Chi's and Finger's stood where Silver City theatres now stand in the mall parking lot.

The Country Kitchen restaurant was all over the city of Winnipeg. Even when others disappeared across North America, the one on Queen Elizabeth Way kept ticking along. Eventually prolonged bridge construction work killed it off. Want to know where the last Country Kitchen in Canada is: Winkler.

Country Kitchen in Heartland Inn, Winkler
Winnipeg had both Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses in Winnipeg. In the 1980s, Ponderosa retreated from the Canadian market and many locations in Canada were converted to Red Lobster. Bonanza closed their last restaurants in Winnipeg in the 1990s.

Harvey's, a large Canadian chain, has tried to crack the Winnipeg market a few times. It had a location on Pembina Highway, some in Home Depots and the airport. All are closed now.

Longhorn's Texas Steakhouse gave it a go on Leila but they didn't do enough to redecorate and even had the old Branigan's frosted class in place with a B on it after they opened.

Pete and Marty's was a franchise that closed in Polo Park and is where Moxie's is now. Mr. Greenjean's was an old favourite in Eaton Place, now occupied by  Boston Pizza.

A few Winnipeg franchise restaurants have failed after many years in business. As just mentioned above Branigans used to have locations all over the city and even had one in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Grape's was around for decades but alas, they are all gone now. Schmecker's used to have a few locations. Papa George's closed their last location this year. Grubee's was Winnipeg's attempt to create a burger chair to compete with the McDonald's of the world. Several locations closed back in the 1970s.

Mayor's Katz's Hu's Restaurants are all closed now.

In recent years, we have seen the slow retreat of KFC from Winnipeg. Quizno's has started closing places. Kelsey's had two locations shut the same day.

I am sure I have forgotten some of the chains that have closed. Some will say we are better off but many places were family favourites.

Edit: Just been reminded that Harvey's has returned and opposite the University of Winnipeg. And also at the airport?

Also Mother's Pizza with two locations on Regent and Pembina Highway. A mainstay in the 1980s till they dashed back to Ontario.

Just remembered Chuck-E-Cheese on Pembina Highway and Fuddrucker's on St. James near Polo Park. If my recollection is correct, it was owned by some Winnipeg Jets.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Winnipeg's Tallest Tower

The new downtown tower
It it all hype?

A Winnipeg Free Press story mentioned how many building projects are going up...only two actually under construction.

On average since 1970, Winnipeg usually sees a few taller buildings go up every ten years. There is one big gap of nearly 15 years over the entire 1990s and into the mid 2000s where nothing was built if any real height over the entire city. As most will remember, Winnipeg and much of the country was dragging through a recession, very low dollar and major cutbacks at every level of government. The one major initiative was the construction of Shaw Park for baseball as part of a plan for Winnipeg hosting the Pan American Games and permanent home for the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

Winnipeg in the 1990s saw property values drop horribly and the struggle every day was palpable. The departure of the Winnipeg Jets in 1996 seemed to leave the message: Will the the last one to leave turn out the lights? It was an awful time that saw the city tear itself apart with murder, arson and car theft. People fled the province.

The closure of Eaton's downtown store in 1999 and the huge hole it created downtown kind of shook up the business and government community. The empty Eaton's building was the biggest symbol of how Portage Avenue was on life support.

Despite efforts to preserve the Eaton's building, no one from the private sector came forward with a viable plan year after year until the arena proposal led by the Chipman family came to the fore.

It would be wrong to say that this deal turned this around for the downtown of Winnipeg. It did however lead to a partnership between the Chipman family and David Thomson, who owned the Eaton's property, to create the circumstances for the return of the Winnipeg Jets.

Serendipity. The combination of the two families led to the building of the MTS Centre which led to the Jets which has resulted in the construction of the biggest project on North Portage since the 1980s. The Centrepoint development is well underway and will have offices, a hotel, a parkade, condos and restaurants. The tallest building since the Investor's Group office is climbing into the air.

The very slow recovery of the economy that includes Winnipeg and the excitement of the Jets return has inspired some investors to invest in property in the downtown area. We have seen some private developers buy hotels, apartments and offices for some pretty big money.

There are a few proposals for residential towers downtown, only two have shovels in the ground, one other look ready to go. A few have seemed to falter on the lack of parking and their unwillingness to invest in a parkade. The Waterfront Drive phase one of condos depended largely on the developers putting their own parkades in. The price point as a result is higher.

Notwithstanding the issue of parking and how government can help, many developers are proceeding with their own plans. No one builds on speculation anymore so pre-sales are the rule of the day. Even when everything is almost pre-sold, it is still a slow process as one Assiniboine Avenue developer has shown.

The biggest hype probably surrounds the Fortress Real Developments and MADY Developments with their tallest building in the city proposal for 245 Graham Avenue across from the old post office/new police headquarters. The tower continues to get pushed up in proposed height. The latest word is that it will be 46 and possibly as high as 55 storeys in height.

The proposal also includes a grocery store, some offices, parking.

The creed of the new development is Live, Work, Play.

Can it work? Well, it has been done before. Winnipeg developer Lakeview has done it twice with Lakeview Square and Delta hotel complex from the 1970s and 1980s and the Courts of St. James in the 1970s. Each project required tens of millions of dollars and had retail, offices and residential components that ensured their success.

The $200 million to complete Winnipeg's tallest building could be there to spend. The impression from the developers is that they do set out to do the work they promise. They have an established record.

However, we have had many promises from even well know Winnipeg firms that were withdrawn because market conditions were not right.

It remains to be seen if this project can go forward. But in the end, Winnipeg has waited a very long time for a major building like this and the timing for it might be perfect.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Lorde - Royals

First woman to top alt chart in 17 years.

Banjo Bowl Message

Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan, a bango picking inbred says: It's on.

Attractive cousins.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Boosters and Complainers

There has been a bit of a discussion on booster and complainers in the city of Winnipeg. The word angst has been described a few times. I think it should be pointed out that we are not the only place like this. This same navel gazing takes place in Toronto as well.

They were so determined to land a big sports event that they bid on and got the Pan American Games for 2015. Two previous times to get the Olympics failed.

Many cities all indicate they want to do something world-class. The suggestion is they don't want to appear ordinary. Toronto uses the term frequently. And to be fair they often do have amazing events, attractions and people.

I have travelled to a few countries and it has always been a mix of boosterism and complaining. The truth always lies somewhere in between.

The Weakerthans in their song One Great City celebrated the complainers of Winnipeg.

Venetian Snares had an even more negative view.

Not surprisingly, there are not as many moment where people stand up and say how proud they are publicly.

Even when there is a Winnipeg song, it seems like faint praise such as what you find on Randy Bachman and Neil Young's Prairie Town.

In the last little while, I have detected renewed irritation in Winnipeg often manifested in snark. I suppose it is a bit better and more clever than some in the west who with a certain smugness call where they live "God's country." The inference being that the people there are also God's favoured.

No matter. As I mentioned, the truth lies somewhere in between.

Bloggers have come in for scrutiny a bit, especially by the main media. I have no problem with that.  Truth be told, there are lot of fewer Winnipeg bloggers than a few years back. Many people have migrated to Twitter or other social media.

I don't really see myself as a booster or a complainer. I feel I can write about the attraction of IKEA while still pointing out about the traffic chaos in the area. I speculated long ago what sort police cars Winnipeg might get when Crown Victorias were retired while gagging at the paint jobs they were getting. I have mused about commercial and retail developments, wrote about educational and institutional construction, talked about cultural, sport, recreational activities and politics.

I'd like to think I have not been anything but myself. I'm not a journalist. I rely heavily on mainstream media for information. I don't have that type of access or the resources or the time to cover stories. I respect TV, radio and newspapers. It is an endless mouth that needs to be fed and I am sure it is like any job out there that you might love and hate at the same time.

I often think some bloggers just eventually quit as it is fatiguing thinking of what to write. Or they just have said all the want to say. For a journalist, the work continues, assignments are given, deadlines set. Not easy.

I write mostly about Winnipeg. My blog usually gets between 14,000 and 25,000 hits for the year 2013. I hope people find what I write or what I find interesting. Sometimes it is just a song or a website I have liked. Mostly I have taken the time to write something about the city.

I think I am like a lot of people in Winnipeg. I know what our problems are but I also know what a great place it is to live here as well.

So Booster or Complainer? I am neither and both. So stick that feather in your cap.

By the way, I wish I was joined by more long form writers in blogs who write about where they live. I can't tell you how much I enjoy it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Atmosphere, Marshalls Coming to Linden Ridge Shopping Centre

Marshalls, Atmosphere, SportChek, Petsmart, Dollar Tree
No official announcement yet but here is what is going up beside The Brick at Linden Ridge Shopping Centre.

Marshalls is looking to expand fast in Winnipeg and their second location in the city will be in the southwest of the city in the mall.

Winnipeg will get its first Atmosphere. The retailer is a sports equipment and outdoor fashion store with no locations outside of Quebec and Ontario.

Also added to the list of stores opening is a large SportChek, a Petsmart and Dollar Tree.

There is still room for development of the site but this represents one of the largest expansions of retailing for this mall in a number of years.

It is a coup for this developer to grab Marshalls and Atmosphere because clearly, they seem well suited for Seasons of Tuxedo down the street. However, the second and third phase of that mall are barely under way or still on the books.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tebow Cut.... Next Stop Winnipeg

Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow has been cut from New England Patriots.

Next stop Winnipeg?

Montreal has the negotiating rights but they picked up their own former NFL quarterback Troy Smith to play in the last weeks because Anthony Calvillo is concussed. The 2006 Heisman Trophy winner has been signed for a 2 year contract.

And now Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner has been cut from his third NFL team in 18 months. It seems unlikely that Montreal could carry three quarterbacks this year so will they allow Winnipeg to negotiate a contract? I think the answer comes after tomorrow's game.

Winnipeg has four CFL quarterbacks right now. Someone is getting cut by the end of the weekend, maybe two somebodies.

Will Tim Tebow suddenly be in Winnipeg's future? A lot of things will have to happen but desperation could drive the bus.

So Winnipeg, take a knee. Prayers either way?