Monday, June 30, 2014

Young Artists For Haiti - Wavin' Flag - What Canada Does Best

In Honour of Canada Day and generally who we are when we reach out.
Soloists (in order of appearance)

ESPN Attended Blue Bomber Game

Drew Willy Celebrate Wins Over Toronto
ESPN's Peter King was at the Winnipeg Blue Bomber game last Thursday as they faced off against the Toronto Argonauts. This is what he reported.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers hadn’t done a lot of winning the past two years. Last season’s record was a dismal 3-15. Now, they were starting over, with a defensive scheme no one seemed to know anything about, and a new starting quarterback, Drew Willy, who had only a smattering of spot starts to his name at any level of professional football.

But it’s the same thing we say about parents: They worry because they love you. And boy, do Winnipeggers love their Blue Bombers. That only deepened when the NHL skipped town for 15 years, leaving the Canadian Football League Bombers as this sports town’s pro team.
And of course we apologized about the weather as ESPN was here as well.

However, he was impressed with us even with a tepid turn out as people still stewed from last year's terrible performance.

So when Willy completed his first drive ever as a professional QB1 with a 27-yard touchdown pass—one of those fade routes that works so well in the vast 20-yard CFL end zones—there was a cavalcade of noises. Where were we, Seattle? The Bombers’ modern, U-shaped stadium looks like the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field, and for being half the size—and far from full last night—it sounded a little like it, too.
They ring cowbells here (a crossover from the sport of curling, one of the locals said) and, after every score, a little bomber jet driven by “Captain Blue” takes a spin around the end zone printed with the University of Manitoba seal. The Bombers’ 7-0 lead over the Toronto Argonauts was cause enough for a “LET’S GO BOMBERS!” chant to reverberate off the tin roof.
Compared to noisy Seattle?

And ESPN's concluding remarks:
Sure, leads have a way of vanishing in the CFL. The game moves so quickly, and inside the three-minute warning, the clock stops after every play. But this wasn’t a tease, not for those fans in the stands who have had season tickets in their family for more than 50 years, dating back to the dynasty years of Ken Ploen and Bud Grant. No, last night, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers knocked off the best quarterback in the league and the would-be favorite in the CFL’s Eastern Conference, and the score—45-21—wasn’t even close.

“The fans needed this win,” O’Shea said. “This community needed it. That’s important, too.”

After the game, Willy found out that his friends back in the States were able to watch him play on ESPN 3. Then, he picked up his game check from a staffer sitting on a folding chair in the hallway.

This is the charm of the CFL. As fans sing over the national anthem at Bombers games, God keeps their land glorious and blue.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

New Condos For Shaftesbury Boulevard

9 Detached Condos for Shaftesbury Blvd
The city has sold of surplus land behind Shaftesbury High School and overlooking Shaftesbury's soccer pitch and St. Paul High School's football field. The developer of the land wants to build 9 detached condo bungalows tucked behind a hydro substation and close to Bard Place.

Tiny Patch of Surplus Land
Detached condos looks like actual houses save for the fact that owner only owns their unit inside the four walls and shares ownership of everything else such as road, roofs, snow clearing, etc.

Quite simply, it will look much like Tuxedo does now.

Overlooking fields of Shaftesbury and St. Paul's
Road access would be to Shaftesbury Boulevard. Owners of these condos likely will have a very good view of high school soccer and football games at the two high schools.

New condos tucked in a corner
The housing might be low density but the land is definitely in-fill and serves a purpose for people looking to locate or re-locate in Charleswood, River Heights and Tuxedo and want a bungalow condo. It is a wise use of land by the city and serves the taxpayers well.

CMU, Shaftesbury and St. Paul's fields
There are four school fields behind the various school along Grant. It may come in the next years but I suspect the Canadian Mennonite University might build a fieldhouse where they presently have a soccer field and baseball diamonds. Just a gut feeling I have about the direction they are going in with sports.

The widening of Shaftesbury Boulevard is inevitable at this point. It remains to be seen when that gets done.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Whither Rapid Transit?

Osborne Transit Station
The debate over rapid transit in Winnipeg has gone on for decades. In the end all that has been built of Phase 1 is 3.7 kilometers at a cost of $138 million or $38 million per kilometer. It starts at Main Street and ends Osborne Village and speeds can reach 80 kilometers an hour.

The ride is over before it even begins with phase 1.

Many Winnipeggers probably believe they will never use transit never mind rapid transit. The only poll taken of the temperature of the citizens this past week show most want a referendum on the subject. After that, opinion is divided about whether to proceed although leans towards cancelling the project.

Winnipeg has voted on big decisions in the past. The Winnipeg Aqueduct had a vote and even though the cost was $13 million, Winnipeggers saw the wisdom in that decision.

The prospect of a referendum for rapid transit weeks before approvals appeared to some as either a delaying tactic or an outright attempt to kill rapid transit. The impending election in the fall and the annus horribilus at city hall likely spooked people about how popular any spending measures are. There is a lot anger out there.

With so much money on the table from the province and the federal government, the fear was that the offer was gone if rapid transit was delayed or cancelled. City councillors voted 13 to 3 by to set in motion phase 2.

At the zero hour, the prospect of losing promised money from other governments was just too much to bear. This game of chicken being played in the hope that the the province and feds would just hand a check over for the city to decide how to spend was not going to happen. Attempts to leverage more money failed as well.

An attempt to break the logjam of traffic on Pembina Highway by widening or creating overpasses so that there are no traffic lights and a car can travel 80 kilometers an hour would be a lot more than the public transit tab.

To top it off, there are highway proposals, widening projects and bridge reconstuctions that in theory could cost billions.

The city already has crumbling infrastructure and not just roads and sidewalks. The water mains, sewers, parks and recreation all need upgrades and regular maintenance.

Some people may indeed want to drive at 80 kilometers and hour on smooth roads with no traffic lights and multiple lanes to a quiet cul de sac with large yard and low taxes but realistically we are seeing it is difficult if not impossible to achieve this. The stretching out of infrastructure and police, fire and school services eventually reaches a point that is uneconomical.

These are the costs of sprawl and they are enormous.

To be fair though, there are costs associated with density in cities as well. Yes, I did say density causes higher costs.

Increasing density increases the property values. Rationing the land, making a city more compact and limiting where you can build causes real estate to rise. In short, it makes housing and industry more expensive. We are seeing debate in the Free Press about what to do with certain tracts of land with some advocating high density housing for Lanark Street in River Heights and Parcel Four at The Forks. The counter arguments have been a dog park and a forest respectively.

We should keep in mind that urban writer Jane Jacobs warned about the dangers of willy nilly high density. She felt it would "begin to repress diversity instead of stimulate it." By this she meant thought should be given to every development in a neighbourhood in terms of its livability and livelihood.

To put this in context: any savings we might get from density can be lost if property is more expensive. Moreover, if industrial jobs are driven out, we increasingly see reverse commuting where people head farther out in the suburbs for work.

Now in terms of Lanark and Parcel 4, Jacobs would have probably have advocated some sort of accommodation of each neighbourhood's needs. What that is, who can say? It is why consultations take place and a decision is made to best achieve the results even if some controversy takes place.

A great example of that is the expansion of the Osborne Village Safeway. The first plan presented was blasted. Some saw no need for the expansion at all. Others wanted it but with more sympathy for surrounding area. Back to the drawing board and a new plan was made. It had more support but not a consensus. The result: A Safeway that sustains the area, enhances the area and while not perfect makes Osborne Village a desirable and viable neighbourhood.

This battle of sprawl and density is happening all over the word. In the States it is even worse where people commute from one suburb where they live to another suburb where they work.

It is a bit disconcerting as it seems we can't win. Density is needed to keep costs from sprawl down but density increases land value making housing and industry more expensive. This is turn drives people to the suburbs as it is difficult to afford housing costs and jobs go to where it is cheaper.

So what is the right solution?

Well, the trick is to continue to balance the needs of the city with the costs.The primary need of the city is to establish a place to live, work and play. The part that a lot of people forget is the work part...and sometimes even the play part with neighbourhoods that are all house and no yard. Some of these suburbs often take a dim view of people playing in the parks they do have.

But let's not get to far off the track. If the objective is to try and limit sprawl but not go crazy with density for the sake of density, how do we achieve it? The first thing many experts say is not to drive away employers such as industry. There often seems to be an attitude that industrial areas are a blight that needs to be driven out. Well with that goes your jobs.

One of Winnipeg's major employers is the airport but planners seem intent on building housing on flight paths. Another industrial area in the north part of the city is begging city hall not to build housing too close to them and then try and push them out as undesirable.

If Winnipeg wishes to control sprawl it has to ensure it keeps the jobs close and to embrace industry within its borders.

Keeping this in mind, it is accurate to say that the 35,000 people at the University of Manitoba represent service and industry through the school and the Smart Park. Toss in indoor soccer field and Investor's Group Field for good measure. These numbers rival Manitoba's second largest city of Brandon.

And yet we don't have any means of connection from downtown to university except for roads which we know to be bottlenecked. There are a lot of buses going back and forth but as the Manitoban newspaper has reported, those buses can be packed and pass by students at various times of the day. And now with the Investor's Group Field, citizens of the city are encouraged even more to use transit and face even greater problems. One sports fan has already died for his beloved Bombers trying to cycle through the tight streets leading to the university.

If ever there was a crying need for remedy, it would seem to be now.

A plan has been presented but city hall has done a poor job to sell it. Moreover, the feeling is that the route appears to be set up for developers. Given the cronyism of the past years confidence is low that this will benefit the people of Winnipeg. Hence, the call for a referendum or plebiscite. As mentioned though, the cancellation of the transit scheme didn't simply mean money would be used for roads instead.

Provincial and federal money always comes with strings. That was so aptly demonstrated by the location of the Investor's Group field. Federal money was only available at that site.

Left to their own ends, many on council would probably opt for highways in the city but this option only exacerbates the problems of city growth. The city can ill afford to keep extending itself. The idea of transit corridors should have been adopted long ago when purchasing old rail lines might have been cheaper. Can you imagine what it might have been like if bike paths or a LRT line had resulted from the Oak Bank line through River Heights and Polo Park?

Phase 2 of Bus Rapid Trant has been approved but the city and province need to be gathering the parts for east-west corrdidors and a north corridor now. It is slow and steady work and some people won't be happy. But if we're lucky maybe the south corridor when complete will make people adopt that transit system to make their way north or south from downtown to the University of Manitoba.

Ultimately, we need to limit sprawl and to have density rise in a measured way that takes into account the live, work and play philosophy. Rapid transit can help Winnipeg achieve this goal.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Legacy of Sam Katz

The last laugh?
After 10 years as mayor, what is Sam Katz's legacy?

This isn't always a question that can be answered with immediacy after any leader steps down. It often has to fit it has be a lasting narrative that is repeated as fact about that person.

For example: Duff Roblin and how Winnipeg has been spared disaster time and time again because of the Red River Floodway.

Ten years from now it is doubtful that Katz will be remembered as the man who brought IKEA to Winnipeg.

The problem with that narrative is that a lot of people lay claim to that. And in the end IKEA brought IKEA to Winnipeg.

Sometimes it is the simplest things that will be remembered and they may often say more about us that it has about the person we elected. In this case, let's think about Glen Murray.

Glen Murray was the first openly gay mayor elected to a major city in North America. That's a legacy for the continent. The issue mattered little to us compared to who led the city.

In terms of legacies that a politician likes to be remembered for, it was Glen Murray who expended quite a political capital to get a downtown arena built, got the Esplanade Riel bridge and restaurant completed and was one of the champions of the Human Rights Museum. He managed to that and have a freeze on property taxes.

All of the above are legacies. Many were not recognized as such when they were undertaken. It took time to realize some of the significance of these projects. Some, in the case of the Human Rights Museum, we still don't know what the end story is.

So, if we keep things simple at first, what is the legacy of Sam Katz? Well, he is the first Jewish mayor elected in Winnipeg. This is a big deal insofar as we have had Jewish leaders routinely rejected by the electorate for higher office at various levels.

Winnipeg has grown up. We have made firsts in electing a woman, a gay man and a Jewish man mayor of the city of Winnipeg. Collectively, we have said these are not the issues that will stop me from voting for this person.

Now what of the legacy of achievements of Sam Katz? To be sure, those things are still in flux. He can certainly claim as much as Glen Murray a hand in getting the Human Rights Museum completed. However, we don't know what the citizens of the city will feel about the project for some time to come.

Property taxes were frozen...till they weren't.

Business tax was cut and this is a concrete legacy and something he pushed for.

Katz was also the force behind ending city garbage service. Costs are down but the is still a developing story of service, efficiency and conservation.

After this, things get a little fuzzy. We have a number of fire halls and police headquarters built but the good legacy of investment there is tangled in with the overcosts, cronyism and lost trust of business and the electorate.

The praise from Alex Forest of the fire union stating that the mayor did right by the fire fighters and paramedics and they don't know what all the fuss is about is a bit rich. Let's just say that a fire all built on private land a swaps of city property by a fire chief is not way to run city hall.

How things get done is equal to getting them done.

This is the immediate aftermath of the legacy of Sam Katz.

Some other projects that Sam Katz was involved in might have a more lasting and appreciated recognition in years to come. The turnaround of Central Park came from a lot of people but Katz was there to help usher it in. He also was there to help with the new fieldhouse for the University of Winnipeg.

After many decades, the first leg of rapid transit was constructed under Katz's watch. Even now, we don't know if it was in spite of him or not. We don't yet know how Winnipeg feels about it all and won't know for years to come.

The legacy of Sam Katz is still being written. Let's see how it turns out.

St. Vincent - Digital Witness

Friday, June 20, 2014

Destination Maternity Coming to Polo Park

Destination Maternity, sister store to Motherhood Maternity on Kenaston is hiring now to fill staff positions for their soon to be open store of Polo Park Plaza.

It is the largest maternity fashion store in the world.

Further announcements are pending for Polo Park Plaza north of Polo Park.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Victoria's Secret Coming to St. Vital Centre

The runaway success of Victoria 's Secret at Polo Park has encouraged the retailer to open another location in Winnipeg.

Hiring has begun for Victoria's Secret for their new St. Vital Centre location.

The competition between the two malls for destination stores has been keen and this will certainly give local area residents more reason to stick close to home.

St. Vital Centre continues a fairly extensive refresh of their look and the mall continues to pursue high value stores. Unlike Polo Park though, the mall has limited expansion areas unless they get approval for a parking desk and second floor. It remains to be seen if they ever pursue or wait to see if Sears folds and try to expand into their space.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Roblin Boulevard Part 9

Asahi Japanese Restaurant Closed 2014
In 2008, a makeover of an old strip mall on Roblin Boulevard saw the entry of Starbucks and posh Asahi Japanese Restaurant to what marks the beginning of old Charleswood. Saying farewell to the area were longtime establishments of Robin's and KFC. Subway was the only one to survive the renovations.

Starbucks established itself nicely as a gathering spot for Charleswood and the whole little strip felt more updated. Prior to that, the feeling of the Robin's and KFC was of restaurants of a bygone decade.

The most exciting addition was Asahi Japanese Restaurant. From the start it offered an exotic new taste to the area that generally has leaned towards Greek with Pappas and White Tower a baseball throw from one another. If there was one cautionary note it was that Sushi Park in the Charleswood Shopping Centre on Grant Avenue had just opened as well.

In terms of price and poshness, Asahi won hands down. It was gorgeous inside. However, in recent years the crowds seemed thinner. Meanwhile, Charleswood Mall including Sushi Park seemed a busier place from lunch time to later in the day.

It is with sadness that the For Lease signs appear in Asahi's windows. I am sure that it will continue to be a restaurant but what kind it is hard to say.

What will movie into Asahi?
 I have meant to update the Robiln Boulevard report for some time as other changes are affoot.

In 2009, beloved McIntyre Meats closed suddenly. It was the successor to equally loved Norman's. For years the site has sat empty. No more. In what seems like a no brainer, the Salvation Army Thrift store is expanding into their spot.

Salvation Army Thrift Store Expanding
The leasing of the space for the thrift store will fill a sad and longtime whole in the little mall. After this, it appears the mall is fully leased.

Co-Op Gas Next Door is Always Busy
Back in 2007 the little mall that houses the local Charleswood 7/Eleven had a little sports store Kel's Crease and Presto Pizza. Both of those businesess are gone and Kel's Crease location was the site of two fashion businesses over the years: Street 204 and then Army Candy. Presto Pizza eventually closed and what came to occupy that space along with the fashion store's location in a two step process was Victory Sports and Injury Clinic.

The addition of Victory Sports and Injury Clinic is in keeping with what really dominates the old Charleswood section of Roblin: Medical clinics, dental clinics, physiotherapy, massage therapy, athletic therapy, chiropractors, optician and veterinarian care. Oh, and two very busy car mechanics centers.

Redeemed Gone
One last bit of sad news: Redeemed is gone beside White Tower.  Redeemed had just been featured in the news in regards to it being a retailer of used fashion. They still appear to have their Academy Road location. Prior to Redeemed the location was the Mattress Source and Sleep Shoppe. The hairstyling place at the end of the mall in 2007 is now occupied by another health business Snider Podiatry Clinic.

Old Charleswood has been a bit of a mishmash but any time during the day you do see foot traffic making way to the various businesses. In many respects it is the downtown of Charleswood.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Uniqlo to Open in Polo Park?

Fashion experts have been discussing where there fast growing Japanese retailer will build their stores in Canada and all agreed that Polo Park was the first choice. Yorkdale Mall in Toronto is scheduled to get a new Unigqlo in 2016 coinciding with a massive expansion of the mall. However, it has been reported that Nordstrom will help with the company opening their clothing retail operation in Canada as well. Nordstrom expects to open stores in 2015.

Uniqlo is a casual clothing store for men and women and they have stated flatly, they intend to be the biggest in the world in terms of locations and sales.

Polo Park continues to do a multi-million dollar renovation on the old Zellers site as well as a first floor site for the very large H&M.

Do they have room for a large Uniqlo? Will Winnipeg get one before Yorkdale in Toronto?

There is no doubt that they second floor will be ready in the next several months and it is unlikely a more choice spot will come up as soon as this.

As the insiders were saying...maybe Seasons of Tuxedo lands a Uniqlo first.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Grant Park Landmark Cinema Expansion

Landmark to add Xtreme Theater to Grant Park
At present the Landmark 8 Cinema at Grant Park Mall is basically the same as it was under former owners Empire Theatres. That will change over the next months as Landmark refurbishes the lobby and the theatres.

It is uncertain whether they will continue to keep all eight theatres as they are adding their marquee product XTreme Theatre to their line up. The screen will be 60 by 30 and the seats will be wide recliners.

It seems unlikely that further building can take place behind Grant Park Mall. Landmark Cinemas has already built right to the back of the property line and spread out in both directions. It is my guess that they might have to cannibalize two theatres into one or sacrifice seats in their largest halls to make way for bigger screen and recliners. It remains to be seen what it will all look like.

Landmark's decision comes on the heels of their announcement of the closure of the 3 Globe Cinemas in Portage Place. Landmark also owns the Towne 8 which was renovated last year so they remain the only owner of movie theatres downtown.

The Landmark group is no small movie ownership group. The purchase of many of the Empire Theatres vaulted them to number 2 in Canada and 10th largest in North America. It seems only fitting that they keep up with Cineplex Odeon which has renovated all their theatres in the city in the last years.

Grant Park Mall has been renovating all aspects of the mall for the last three years. It is barely recognizable from when it started. Target, Shopper's and the Liquor Mart are all bigger. Safeway was just turned into a Co-Op.

In recent months Modern Taco Company and Booster Juice have opened. Modern Barber Shop opens in August and a huge chunk of office space will be occupied by Winnipeg Radiology Services.

It seems highly likely that Grant Park Mall will be completely renovated and maybe completely filled by Christmas.

Additional traffic from an exceptional theatre upgrade is practically a given.

The big question is whether Landmark will be enticed into one more theatre complex somewhere in the city.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Globe Theatre Winnipeg - Where to Now?

I guess we can't say we didn't see this one coming. The three Globe Theaters in Portage Place are closing. This comes on the heels of the IMAX theater closing earlier on.

At the time of their construction in 1987 the theaters were a posh addition to the downtown theater crowd. Eaton's and the Bay were still going concerns as was the south side of Portage Avenue. The first Silver City was built at St. Vital in 1986 but it was half the size it is now. The big films were still downtown and on a Friday night, it was not unusual to see line ups outside the Northstar, the Capitol, The Met and the Garrick

In 1981, there were two multiplex theatres built downtown with the Towne and the Cineplex Eaton 7 theatres.  Two years earlier in  1979, the Garrick Theatre expanded from the two theatre format to a four theatre format on purchased land next door.

There was alarm about downtown Winnipeg in the 1980s to be certain but there were three malls built from 1979 to 1987 in the area including Winnipeg Square, Eaton Place to Portage Place. The problem was there was even more malls being built in the suburbs in St. Vital, St. James, Kildonan and a doubling of Polo Park.

In little more than ten years, retail had exploded all over the city and with it came movie theatres. The reason suburban malls movie theatres took so long to catch on is that very few of them were very nice. The original Polo Park Cinema was in an awful basement with terrible concessions. It was far nicer to go the King Theater just down the road.

It really took the construction of Silver City St. Vital 6 theatre in 1985 to change people's habits completely. The moment St. Vital built the theatre it represented an improvement on the movie going experience, The woeful Eaton Place 7 screen multiplex from 1981 to 1991 was terrible. The cramped theatres and sound leakage from the food court outside was dreadful and most gave up on the place.  It ended up showing art films till even that was rejected by Winnipeg movie fans. The food court eventually expanded into the old theatres.

The 8 screen Towne built in 1981 and the refurbished 4 screen Garrick of 1979 were much better and people still attend the Towne. It may get renewed life for years to come via proximity to Red River College and a bigger residential component from the Exchange District. The Garrick and the Northstar continued to deliver even when the grand old dames of the Met and Capitol collapsed. They lasted until the suburban malls delivered a crushing blow.

In 1998 and 1999, the nail was hammered in with the expansion of St. Vital Silvercity to 10 screens in 1998 and the newly built 14 screen Silvercity Polo Park in 1999. How can could anyone compete with 18 brand new state of the art movie theatres! The truth was almost no one could. By 2001, it was the end for the Garrick and the Northstar theatres.

Anyway this won't be a dissertation on urban and suburban. I don't think anyone can deny that the sound, the picture quality, the theatre amenities and the concessions compete well with the main enemy of movies...television.

It is sad to see The Globe Theatres go and it is further evidence that Portage Place continues to underwhelm.

But where do we go from here?

The University of Winnipeg has looked on longingly at the theatres as possible lecture halls. This might not be a bad match. The University of Winnipeg does not have many large size theatre halls. One wonders how they might make use of the space. Large classes, special lectures, art performances all come to mind.

The one hitch is that it is a bit of a hike from the university. There is some indication that university is already looking at moving some things over. In the last weeks, they took a 2000 square foot space on the second floor of Portage Place for the Legal Resource Centre, a legal help center for low income clients

The Globe Theatres occupy nearly 28,000 square feet! This is no small bite even for an expansionist university.

There are two other possibilities that could be suggested for Globe Theatre space. The first is that it could be used as a new exhibition hall in the some format as the now demolished MTS Exhibition Hall. At 10,000 square feet larger than the old location and all one level...not to mention gorgeous windows to Portage Avenue, the hall could attract many travelling shows such as Body World and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Perhaps Portage Place could tap on the MTS doors and see what their thoughts on the subject are.

The other suggestion for the space also leverage proximity to the MTS Centre. It would seem one of the best uses might be a sports bar and restaurant for the space. Moxies, Earl's and Milestones are all downtown. The Shark Club has been a runaway success. One more sports bar option for lunch, dinner and late nights might be just what the doctor ordered.

Sad as it is to see the Globe Theatre go, it is sadder to see the space under used. This could be a trigger for a major improvement in the mall much like how cityplace has undergone millions of dollars work after securing the Shark Club. It will be interesting to see what direction the operators of Portage Place go.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Calder Cup on Winnipeg TV

Winnipeg fans will be able to watch the St. John's IceCaps starting tonight on Shaw, Bell and MTS TV.

The farm club of the Winnipeg Jets won the third round of the play-offs to go into the Calder Cup against the Texas Stars. The best of seven series looks to be epic.

Todd Crocker and Bob McGill will be on duty for play by play and colour while Paul Hendrick and Jon Abbott will be hosting. Leafs TV will broadcast every game.

Here are the channels to look for the broadcast in Winnipeg:

MTS What's on MTS TV
(channel 9)
Shaw Direct 454/398 (HD),
466 (SD)
Shaw Cable 255 (HD), 147 (SD)
Bell 1422 (HD), 422 (SD)
NHL Network Radio Sirius 207, XM 211
AHL Live

Go Caps go!

Edit: It appears Shaw does not have the rights till game
4 till the end if it goes to 7.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fossil Coming to Winnipeg

Fossil store is coming to Polo Park this year according to the company.

In all likelihood the store will be located in the newly renovated section where Zellers used to be.

This is part and parcel of a massive expansion of the clothing and accessories store in Canada.

There is rumour that the company will also build a factory outlet store across from the IKEA in the Collections mall in 2015.

Expect more big announcements from Polo Park in the coming weeks.

St. John's IceCaps Canada's Team

The Stanley Cup is being fought by the New York Ranger and the Los Angeles Kings. There are many Canadian players on both team but alas, the excitement of supporting a Canadian-based team won't be happening this year.

There is a Canadian-based team in the second best league in the world though that begins the Calder Cup play-offs starting this Sunday and that is the St. John's IceCaps.

While many Winnipeg Jets fans have been pouting about another play-offs denied for the home team, the farm club team of the Jets has been soldiering on from one round to the next. It is now all on the line against the Texas Stars for the Calder Cup.

In the 15 years of the Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg never did win a Turner Cup (in the old IHL) or a Calder Cup in the AHL. In less than three years, St. John's, Newfoundland is not only in the final but has a very, very good shot at winning the Calder.

In many ways Winnipeg and St. John's are the same in regards to the terrible loss we experienced losing our hockey teams. In Winnipeg's case, it was the Jets and St. John's case it was the Maple Leafs (who moved to become the Toronto Marlies).

Winnipeg's good fortune was also St. John's good fortune in that Winnipeg chose to place their farm club team of the AHL in St. John's. The unadulterated joy in both cities was palpable. And St. John's has rewarded that commitment by selling out the arena all the time.

It has always been joy in IceCap land. Last year the team was not in the play-offs and finished second last in their conference. The joy is back now and this a reflection if three years of drafts for the Winnipeg Jets and from sound management practices that saw the old Moose consistently advance in the play-offs.

Why should Winnipegger's play attention?

Well, the short of it is that many of the players playing their hearts out have played on the Jets for a few stints and are now eying permanent jobs on the team.  Easily the stand out that we in Winnipeg need to watch Is Michael Hutchinson, the goaltender the Jets picked up as a free agent this year and who had started in the even lower East Coast Hockey League. This young man has amassed over 50 wins in three leagues including the Jets this year!

Three veterans on the team have shown leadership to many of the young guys coming up. Jason Jaffrey, Andrew Gordon and Blair Riley have helped the kids do well and wracked up points too. But this isn't just core vets getting the job done. Winnipeg Jets prospects like Adam Lowery and Josh Morrisey have jumped into the line-ups and helped the team. Eric O'Dell at center has been solid on Jets and with the Ice Caps. Zach Redmond is making his way from that terrible injury with the Jets.

Many of the prospects had a chance to show some stuff with the Jets when late season injuries crippled the team. Ben Chiarot helped on defence with Jets this year. Patrice Cormier and John Albert showed some center ice promise. J.C. Lipon, Karl Klingberg and Brenden Kitchon are playing their hearts out.

Yes, all in all, this is an exciting team and we have gotten to know a few of these players this year.

Quite frankly, we need to see these guys get experience and confidence as they play the Calder Cup. Why? The reason why is that the new Winnipeg Jets and old Atlanta Thrashers don't have a lot of play-off experience. We need that grit, experience and confidence going forward.

Not all of the Jets on the team this year will be back next year. We could lose a few to free agency. We could lose a few to trades. A possible retirement could also happen. In all likelihood, some of the St. John's Ice Caps or others in Winnipeg's system will make their way to big show this year.

In the mean time, it is a crying shame that we can't watch Canada's team, the St. John's IceCaps, play the Texas Stars. The IceCaps have one heck of a good website and update Twitter so Winnipeg fans can enjoy it through there.

So, go IceCaps go! You deserve it St. John's! Hope you can hold that cup high!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New Apartment for Charleswood

3605 Roblin used to have Co-op Gas at front of lot
At 3605 Roblin Boulevard, there was originally a Co-Op Gas kiosk. After the Charleswood Motor Hotel was knocked down, Co-Op moved down the block and became a convenience store, carwash and massive 20 lane gas station. The old Co-Op kiosk was torn down and what remained was a strip mall with a rather large parking lot.

Large parking lot left behind
There is not much retail in the mall. The biggest tenant is the Lion's Club seniors day club. Most of the strip is service related industries, a beer supply store and Little Caesar's.

I have thought myself that the mall was ripe for re-development and it looks like that is exactly is happening.

Proposal for a 7 floor apartment on this corner
A developer has made a proposal for a 7 floor apartment at the corner of Roblin and Princeton. It is unclear if it rental or condos at this point.

Appropriate land use?
There are a whole whack of variances to go through before this project flies. Some of the big ones are how close to the property edge, landscaping the property and parking not to mention height.

Very few buildings in the area of Roblin go over three floors. The Manitoba Housing property on Hendon is one such property. It pretty much turns Hendon into a parking lot.

Drawing of the property
The property proposed has parking on the surface but under the building. By all accounts, it looks like this will a seven story walk-up. As you can see from the drawing, it is difficult to see what the overall design will be other than 1 bedrooms are on the main floor and the remaining six floors will be two bedroom.

A resident might want to be in very good shape for a top view.

Occupying the corner lot
I am no expert on residential buildings but I would be curious what the final disposition on this building is. I am all for density but I expect this project has a lot of tweaks left before it gets approval.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Continued Change at CJOB

The final changes had been made is the radio wars line-up. The ending of Hal Anderson's show had left a whole in the lead up to the Charles Adler show. Despite a still number 1 program and a powerful lead over all competitors, it was thought that CJOB could still do better. CBC's nipping at the heels pushed change in that timeslot.

With that, Richard Cloutier and Kathy Kennedy have been announced as the morning hosts of the 5:30 AM to 9:00 AM slot.

Cloutier, late of the Richard Cloutier Reports, had been bumped upstairs to news director to make way for Charles Adler to return to the 9 to noon slot. He remained an on air host on the noon to 1:00 PM show. Kathy Kennedy has been working in radio in Winnipeg for 20 years and has been a reliable performer.

The Cloutier/Kennedy team will be in place and we should see in the fall of 2014 radio ratings if they are stronger than the old Hal Anderson show.

The battle between CBC and CJOB continues. It is going to be a ferocious battle and I expect that a lot of it will be fought during the civic election this fall.