EYESORE OF THE MONTH
This billboard, and the ones similar to it, demonstrate everything that is misguided, ignornant, and simply anti-urban with Downtown boosterism courtesy of the Downtown BIZ. These four placid, white-bread, superimposed models look fresh from a day of "bargain hunting" at Jysk and Pier One Imports, and ready to sit down to a meal at Olive Garden. Except instead of the Olive Garden, it looks like they're going to enjoy a night of some of big-ticket entertainment at the flashy new entertainment complex Downtown. "Come on guys, let's pile in the Toyota and take advantage the parking amneties that Downtown has to offer, and its "safe" streets/walkways thanks to the Downtown BIZ' patrollers... I can't wait to get together with the gang at Sorento's on Pembina next week to tell them about all the things we saw and did in OUR Downtown."
Not that large-scale attractions and venues, and the sub/exurbanites they draw are a bad thing, or don't have their place in healthy downtown distrcts. There is just way too much (read: total) emphasis on this already when it comes to "Downtown boosting" in Winnipeg. The true success of a city's downtown relies on several factors which are each dependant on the other, but the most important of them is a residential population. Other factors such as mixes of building ages, small blocks, mixed uses, humane architecture and scale, and a good transit system, etc. are all for naught if there is no core of residents within the district. Without them, you have nothing but a part-time, one-dimensional, playground that belongs to no one.
Thankfully, behind all the hoopla surrounding the magic bullet schemes of the BIZ, Destination Winnipeg, the three levels of government, and their puppy-dogs in the Free Press- there is real renewal happening. It is happening largely in the form of mixed-use condo conversions, and young people living under-the-table in mixed-use buildings across the Exchange, Chinatown and into South Point Douglas.
Perhaps the Downtown BIZ, and indeed every other "booster", should be promoting day-to-day living in vibrant Downtown neighborhoods to young people, rather than just simply selling it as another summertime tourist stop for them.