Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Parker Avenue Mess Up

Bulk of Parker Avenue Needed for Water and Bus
How did it happen?

Some time ago, I suggested resistance by people along Parker to any change was not likely garner much sympathy. Declarations that the area was a park and then shielding access to the area by blocking roads so that only those living in the area could enjoy the land wasn't in the cards.

The land in question was never designated park land. It has always been zoned industrial and some of the area was used to move high powered hydro lines.

The Fort Rouge Yards/Parker Land Swap was a mess up from start to finish. These over clever moves never properly assessed the value of the lands in question, the future needs of those lands or the environmental concerns. And now we have city officials coming cup in hand with expropriation needs for water retention and bus rapid transit.

What a screw-up.

The bulk of the land around Parker Avenue is now needed for water retention to protect from flooding immediately north in Fort Rouge.  The rest of it is needed for bus rapid transit. If there is any land left for townhouses as was first suggested by the Gem Equities land swap, you've got me. Given the slow or non-development approach of Gem, it is possible we might all be in the old age homes before we ever saw houses in the Parker area.

In any event, the city has to use expropriation for land that just a few short years ago that it could have done this work of water retention and transit for nothing. Is the crazy or what?

Once again Parker Avenue people are not likely to be happy. Many of them will still want nothing to do with the city plans but the bugger my neighbours to the north and their flooding issues is not kosher. Likewise the BRT plans and expropriations everywhere is probably going to make for many sour faces.

A place to hold water
It is difficult to know why we get into these messes. It undermines the faith people have that projects can proceed the make sense logically, are researched, presented for discussion, modified and then carried out. There will always be some resistance but sometimes people buy in afterwards as in the case of Safeway in Osborne Village. There were many that wanted no change in configuration of the store but now there is wide acknowledgement that the vitality of that grocery store has been essential to the success of the residents living in that community.

A ferocious response can be expected when this move hits the council floor this week. I don't blame anyone for throwing their hands up in the air.

For the moment my support lies for those in the Fort Rouge area who may be getting flooded basements over water storage. They have every right as anyone in the city to protection of their properties. To that end, I support water retention if indeed the environmental assessments declare a need.

For the people of Parker Avenue, there is still a possibility of land to enjoy if pathways and the like come as part of the project.

As for the BRT expropriation, I still don't know enough about it to get a handle on it. Every time I think I am close to figuring it out, it seems I know nothing.

Everyone take a deep breath. It is going to be a long week.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wendy's Coming to 3095 Portage Avenue

Old A&W on Portage, future Wendy's
At one time A&W was headquartered in Winnipeg and its first location was at 3095 Portage Avenue built in 1956 as a drive-thru. For some time that location has been empty as A&W moved elsewhere. The old restaurant was dotted with photographs marking its history.

It appears the last vestiges of the old A&W will disappear as the city has approved demolition of the building and the land will be cleared and prepared for a new Wendy's drive-thru.

Wendy's, the third largest burger chain in Canada after McDonald's and A&W, is no stranger to Portage Avenue. The Hakim Optical shop still bears the colours of the former Wendy's on the south side of the street.

Wendy's ended up closing several locations in Winnipeg but in recent years the company has committed itself to building their brand again as well as their branches. In the last few years they built a new Wendy's opposite St. Vital Shopping Centre.

Few people will remember when burger joints were few and Winnipeg was the first to have this kind of new fangled drive thru. A little bit of history disappears. However, time marches on and it is good to see new use for a site that has been for sale for some time.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Redbox Canada Closing all Locations

Just announced today is Redbox will be shutting down all Canadian locations. Last day for rentals will be February 13 and returns back by March 5.

Like Blockbuster, the American owners saw no future in Canada And so ends any national organization renting DVDs in Canada.

Monday, February 2, 2015

New River Heights Fire Hall Daycare

Site of the controversial fire hall and now daycare
The plans for the new daycare
Ask any parent what there is a shortage of and they will say daycare spaces. Any daycare spaces affordable or not.

The disposition of the old fire hall has not been one of the finer moments for the city. It still may be years before we find out what the final tally is for trying to swap land.

There were two bids for the building for daycare spaces. In the end one of the plans appeared better planned out although for a bit less money to buy the building. The Rady Jewish Community Campus will be the new owner and operator of a daycare inside the confines of the old fire hall. The 48 childcare spaces will be available to any child in the area.

The Rady Centre already operates a daycare on the Jewish campus for around 100 kids. They come to the Sir John Franklin site with a reputation already in the field.

The city's main concerns asides from finding a buyer  was to ensure the bus loop remained forever. It will.

The other concern was parking. Two small spots will be where the fire truck main doors were and staff parking is on the side. It isn't a lot of spots. It remains to be seen if traffic becomes an issue.

In the end, this was a good use of a city property. One wonders what a private developer would have come up with. Perhaps it would have been a daycare, maybe a home/light industrial spot.

The new daycare will be a welcome addition to the area and another plus for River Heights families when considering what neigbourhoods are good for families.