Category Archives: Urban growth and development

Why gentrification is a non-issue in Winnipeg and why that matters

It never fails. Whenever urban issues are being discussed in Winnipeg, somebody mentions gentrification. It happened a few weeks ago at a Trib Talk (#tribtalks), a public forum sponsored by the Spectator Tribune, an attractive, struggling on-line newspaper that has lately sprung up in the prairies’ cyberspace.

Gentrification is an important issue, but — as I’ve been arguing tirelessly for years — it has no place in a discussion about Winnipeg. At the Trib Talk, I responded to the mention of gentrification with a twitter outburst: “Gentrification is a non-issue in Winnipeg”, whereupon Robin Mae asked, via Facebook, “By non-issue, do you mean that it’s not happening or that it’s not an important issue to address?”

That’s a good question, and it deserves an answer, but the answer requires a bit of explanation.

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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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Take a deep breath, St. Clements, and get a whiff of chaotic development

Sinkhole

The City of Winnipeg is surrounded by a city (Selkirk), a town (Stonewall) and 13 so-called rural municipalities. Despite the designation “rural”, many of the residents of these municipalities are urbanites, whose objective is to enjoy the benefits of both country and city life, at a more moderate price than they would have to pay for similar properties in the city. (After clicking on the link, scroll down for price comparisons.) That’s why planners refer to these communities as “exurban”. Continue reading

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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Detroit ruins: Celebration or predation?

It has become fashionable – or maybe by now old hat – to celebrate the ruins of Detroit, which prospered with the rise of the American automobile industry and went through a shockingly rapid decline as American manufacturing dispersed across the country and then moved off-shore in search of ever cheaper labour. Scores of opulent architectural gems became ruins. Streets, once bustling with affluent auto workers, jazz musicians, and industrialists, were abandoned.

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Why we love cities, even while we tell ourselves we hate them

Last year I blogged about rural fundamentalism, a visceral dislike of cities that has deeply shaped the world we live in. Rural fundamentalism, however, is only half the story of our ambivalent relationship with cities, because, even though our choices of places to live is driven primarily by a desire to flee the city, the way we conduct our lives ties us to cities, both personally and materially.

Our ambivalence leads us into bad policy choices, and there’s no reason why it should. I’ll come back to that, but first let’s look at why cities are so important to us.  Continue reading

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