Category Archives: City politics

Winnipeg golf courses: As usual, we’re arguing about everything except the issues

Winnipeg could be a much better city if we concentrated on constructive action, instead of beating each other up over ideological agendas. The golf course issue is a case in point. A discussion that could have been about the best use — and best opportunities for enhancement — of public facilities has instead become a war of ideological agendas.

One of the agendas is that of Mayor Sam Katz, Continue reading

Corydon Avenue illustrates Winnipeg City Hall’s communication failures

Corydon

Corydon Avenue is in the eye of a political storm that’s been raging for a long time. The Corydon-Osborne Neighbourhood Plan Facebook page starts on June 9th, 2011. That’s how long planners and citizens have been arguing about Corydon, unless you count a planning document entitled The Villages of Fort Rouge, (click and scroll down a bit) dated August 1998.

It’s not surprising that Corydon Village is controversial.

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Oops, forgot the environmental assessment

For a day or so, it almost looked as if there was a plan for the second leg of Winnipeg’s bus rapid transit system. The system, which was conceived in the early 1970s (or earlier, depending how you date it) took concrete form as the first leg of of a line connecting the centre of the city with the University of Manitoba, 12 kilometres to the southwest. Click here for map  (The line ends after the bus leaves the Fort Rouge station.)

After the first line was completed, it seemed to be taking the city forever to finalise the plans for the second leg. Finally, last Saturday, the Winnipeg Free Press reported that Winnipeg Transit had decided on a route through an open field called the Parker Lands. However, three days later, it became obvious that Continue reading

Pity the city planners: They have to invent rationalisations for bad decisions

TransconaW2012

The big green area in the Google map above tells a story. It marks an undeveloped area between the east Winnipeg neighbourhoods of Elmwood and Transcona, an area that remains undeveloped because the city obligingly extends roads, underground pipes and the full range of its services past it, at taxpayer expense, without requiring its development. My latest article shows how Winnipeg, like many other North American cities, pays a heavy price for its failure to ensure that its infrastructure and services be developed and used in an efficient manner.

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Streets can be good places for business and pleasure

I’m just back from a great trip to Europe – one of those wonderful things I’m lucky enough to be able to do now that I’m retired. Of all the places my wife and I visited, our favourite was Leipzig, …

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You asked a question, Councillor Browaty: Here’s your answer

In the hard-copy edition of today’s Winnipeg Free Press, Councillor Jeff Browaty is quoted as asking a question about the much-debated plan for the development of Corydon Village. As fate would have it, Jane Jacobs answered his question 51 years ago. I’m going to quote the Free Press account of his question and then quote Ms. Jacobs’s answer, as delivered in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which ought to be required reading for everyone who loves cities.

The Free Press: Coun… Browaty… said Corydon has seen successful developments arise from few restrictions and the new planning process doesn’t have to be… in-depth. “Overall, what’s there works, why mess with it?” Browaty said.

Ms. Jacobs’s answer: Continue reading

How to revitalize blighted areas without increasing taxes: TIF

Winnipeg’s city hall has used a funding device, common in the US, but virtually unknown in Canada, to develop housing, and is now looking at using the same device to improve streets around the MTS Centre and to support the development of a co-operative business centre, the Neechi Commons.

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Winnipeg’s most pressing land use issue

For decades I’ve been a reader of a unique American publication called the Planning Commissioners’ Journal, a voice of sanity on city planning issues. The editor of PCJ, regrettably, is working on the magazine’s final issue, and asked readers to send comments about their community, and the land use challenges it faces.

Here’s what I had to say about Winnipeg: Continue reading

Shoppers Drug Mart in Osborne Village: Be careful what you wish for

Shoppers Drug Mart in Osborne Village is expanding, crowding out its neighbours, a Vietnamese restaurant and a popular video rental store. The expansion will turn the entire ground floor of the new building into a pharmacy. Some cosmetic touches planned for the front of the building will fail to conceal the fact that three separate businesses at street level will be replaced by one.

In other words, diversity at street level will be replaced by uniformity. That’s what Jane Jacobs – a Torontonian who set the world of city planning on its ear – would be saying if she were still with us. In her classic Death and Life of Great American Cities, she argued…

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Rural fundamentalism

North American society tends to glorify rural life, seeing it as the repository of clean living, family values and community stability. Sociologists used to refer to this as rural fundamentalism.

As a result of these ideas, it’s common, in this country and across the continent, to regard cities as, at best, necessary evils, characterized by noise, dirt, crime and moral degeneracy: pornography, illicit drugs, drunkenness, violence, degenerate art and music – with the conception of what’s degenerate changing from time to time. I’ve seen it go from Elvis Presley to the Rolling Stones to the Ramones to hip hop – probably with a few stops in between that I’m forgetting at the moment.

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