Posts Tagged ‘ikea’

  1. I’m really surprised: why is it that the only bloggers who are really concerned about Manitoba Hydro seem to be The Black Rod and myself?  From the PUB reports, I’m convinced that Hydro’s future viability is at risk.  Why aren’t we hearing more about this?
  2. Sport Manitoba’s plans for the Smart Bag Co. building is a big story that hasn’t yet returned to the public eye… Galston mentioned it a while back, and I’ve heard a few other murmurs here and there.  I’ve found no official news from Sport Manitoba, or anything in upcoming city council meetings.  If Phase I is supposed to be complete in Dec 2009, I imagine Phase II must be a “done deal”.  Will Sport Manitoba keep the history intact?
  3. Stubble burning is a big issue, and I’ve heard that it’s unnecessary and that it can’t be helped.  Hopefully over the next few days I’ll find out where the truth lies.  I do know that it’s made for a pile of sick Manitobans these past few weeks, including me.
  4. Crime is out of control in Winnipeg; whether or not the number of crimes or their severity has increased from the past, I know that something must be done.  I’m hoping to come up with my own point of view on this, which may or may not coincide with the view of our provincial and federal Liberal parties.
  5. I’ve made peace with the Seasons of Tuxedo.  In my opinion, there are far bigger issues in Winnipeg, and I accept that residents and leadership of this city and province feel that the vast amount of new retail on Kenaston is worth the expected commercial decline in other areas (I personally wonder if it will scuttle the Creswin plan for The Elms).  It’s not like I expected Ikea to move into a building downtown (sorry Mr. Nobody), and the victims of any retail drought will probably be other suburban malls; they lived by the sword when they slashed the downtown storefronts, so it’s somewhat poetic for them if they die by the sword.  As far as the name of the new shopping mecca: I am not a marketing specialist, so obviously my taste in names lacks judgement.  Accordingly, this blog has been renamed “Seasons of Regan” to coincide with this powerful new trend.

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From what I can tell, Plan Winnipeg was intended to bring a long-term vision to city council, and to function as a guideline for all future development. Reading it nowadays, it leaves me the impression of being a “feel-good” document, one that aspires to a greater city, but leaves out too many concrete details and any legislative teeth.

So if there is going to be a new Plan Winnipeg, what will it look like? Will it be another feel-gooder, but this time with some clout? I don’t think so.

Most Winnipeggers live in the suburbs and drive to work. Most Winnipeggers shop at big box stores like Walmart and Superstore, and rarely venture downtown for shopping or entertainment. So when Mayor Katz and the majority of city councillors vote on a new long-term plan for Winnipeg, it will most likely be based on the desires of the majority of Winnipeggers. This means that while there will be some mention of active transportation (Councillor Clement has been a big supporter of this for years) and rapid transit (certainly a favourite of Councillor Wyatt), there won’t be any plan to dismantle the sprawling suburban developments. Most Winnipeggers are happy with the way things are.

So how do we make sure that the Winnipeg of the future is better than the Winnipeg of today? I think the answer is simple: finding some common ground.

It seems that most of us agree on what we want in our lives: we want to provide a good life for ourselves and our families, with clean air, safe streets, and fun things to do. There are a few issues that cause honest disagreement, such as pro-life vs. pro-choice, or Coke vs. Pepsi. But almost everything else seems like a disagreement of ends, while in reality being only a disagreement of means.

I want to be able to drive my car without using fossil fuels, while Mike from Don Street Blog wants to take the bus. Meanwhile, Mark Cohoe from Bike to the Future prefers active transportation, which I’ve never been tough enough to do during the winter. We could spend all day arguing that our way is the better way to save the Earth, but in the end we’d all be happier if I could drive without polluting, Mike could take transit in winter without too much waiting or freezing, and Mark could ride his bike on dedicated trails and lanes. And if the rest of Winnipeg could choose from these three options, they’d be happy, too.

In the future, some of us will live downtown, others will live in the inner ring around downtown (the original City of Winnipeg along with old St. Boniface), and around half of us will still be living out in the suburbs of Greater Winnipeg. On top of that, there will be more and more people living along corridors in neighbouring municipalities, and you may even see some “metro” transit poking out to places like East St. Paul or Oakbank. But none of this will be a drain on the city itself, as we’ll hopefully have elected a Premier who is able to create a Capital Region agreement that ends the property tax war. If we can learn to live with this idea, we can start to work together to make the best of the situation.

I have been speaking to various people at City Hall, and I can see that big things are coming. This city is going to be changing very quickly over the next ten years, and not all of it will be sprawl — but some of it certainly will be. Waverley West will continue, yes, and I expect that there will also be developments north of Jefferson once commuting from the Northwest become a little easier. People who want their single family home will still get their single family home, while a growing number of people will opt for urban living at its finest.

It’s almost as though we’re all wishing to make Winnipeg the next Manhattan, but we forget about all of the New Jersey and Long Island that comes with the package. The same could be said about London, Paris, or San Francisco. And even Portland, Oregon. Those cities are trying to manage sprawl and big-box and freeways as best they can; they know that those things will still exist 25 years from now, but they’re hoping that there might be less of them.

Those of us who want more density downtown will have more success if we can also come up with ideas to cope with the sprawl as best we can. We can promote alternative transport without making people feel guilty for owning cars; we can push for high-rises downtown, but understand that people in North Kildonan aren’t going to accept new 21-storey apartments in their backyard; and we can look at the good things about IKEA (brownsite cleanup provided by a private company, positive promotion of Winnipeg as a growth market during the downturn) while personally deciding to buy local when we can.

The biggest step for the great minds who want this city to improve is to bring everyone to the table. We need to applaud each other’s successes, and thank our opponents for their sincere efforts to make this city a better place. Let’s take some risks, and let other Winnipeggers take some risks, too. Complaining about new ideas doesn’t just kill the bad ideas; it tends to keep all ideas from sprouting.

Instead of saying a bad idea just won’t work, can we come up with ways to make that idea better? If you think the Canadian Museum of Human Rights will be too depressing, start coming up with ways to make it more uplifting. If you don’t like IKEA coming to town, start seeing what it would take to get a Whole Foods Market to move into the Bay downtown.

Let’s build a city that gives everyone something to like. Plan Winnipeg Part II will have some sprawl, but it can also have Light Rail Transit. It may include plans to bring Chinese air cargo to CentrePort, but it can also include more and better downtown housing for all income levels. If we can find some common ground, and understand that we all want many of the same things, we can get to work on the task at hand.

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