Category Archives: Winnipeg politics

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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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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Wal-Mart: Feeding off sprawl and giving it a push

An article in a developers’ house organ, Urban Land, brightly relates stories of empty retail spaces being filled by such innovative uses as medical clinics and libraries. The article says the empty spaces are a result of “recession and prolonged economic stagnation”.

That’s not the whole story… Continue reading

The price Winnipeg pays for subsidizing new roads

It’s not news to residents of central Winnipeg that our streets are in terrible shape, but it would be interesting to know just how bad the situation is overall. The Winnipeg Sun answered that question recently. The paper reported that, by the city’s own reckoning, more than 20 per cent of our streets are rated in poor condition, the lowest rating, meaning that the street must be completely rebuilt, or at least undergo major rehabilitation.

Wayne Glowacki, Winnipeg Free Press

A few days later, the Winnipeg Free Press picked up the story and added some figures to show that the roads are continually getting worse and that the city isn’t anywhere near having the resources it needs to repair the streets quickly enough to keep pace with their deterioration.

Instead, the city has, in effect, given up on attempts to solve the problem. A public works official admitted to the Sun that the city’s priorities are shifting away from streets in poor condition to those that have not yet reached that state, on the premise that it is better to maintain what is viable than to salvage what is not. Since the streets in worst condition tend to be those in the poorest neighbourhoods, the neglect of downtown streets is tantamount to the ghettoization and decay so distressingly familiar in American cities. Continue reading