Saturday, June 28, 2008

Maybe I'm just getting optimistic in the my old age...

I submitted an article to the Free Press early yesterday afternoon, as David Asper was unveiling conceptual plans for a south Point Douglas redevelopment to the media.

Presently, I am not paying too much attention to the conceptual map unveiled, which shows the foundation of what could be a great urban neighborhood wiped away and replaced by the most profane of suburban developments. Unless Mr. Asper was continually lying to the faces of Point Douglas residents for an hour and a half, this plan will work (in some way, at least) within the fabric of the neighborhood.

I wrote this in good faith. I'm sure there will be plenty of time for my opinions to develop as plans become more concrete.

"Right now, the people that live on the south Point, tucked away in tidy little enclaves on unknown leafy streets, love where they live. While they do not have millions of dollars in government funding, they have something far more essential to renewing urban areas: their actual presence there, a vested interest in their investment (however modest), and their quality of life. Many are artists, and add invaluable "cultural capital" to the area. All the tri-level funding in the world could never begin to revitalize the neighbourhood without them.

Save for hotdog vendors, business would not come to Point Douglas on account of a football stadium alone, but many different kinds would come on account of a stronger residential population of all incomes in a more interesting and beautiful Point Douglas.

While Mayor Sam Katz has regularly expressed his support for Asper's plan, city council is slow to remove the antiquated manufacturing zoning that blankets the south Point and prohibits commercial or residential development there. Removing this zoning designation is the simplest way the city can ensure Asper's plan succeeds..."

Art, history and football - WFP

On CBC Radio yesterday afternoon, I heard an interview with Point Douglas artist Jordan Van Sewall, who said he is selling his 126 year-old house for around $750,000. Good for him--he could get five times that sum in any less economically dysfunctional city--but a bad sign for anyone thinks buying out residents in
disposable old Point Douglas is going to be an affordable walk in the park.

Point Douglas looking west, c.1890s. The two houses on the right are still standing, on Annabella and Curtis Streets


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Robert -- I thought your points in your article were very good but in the end you seemed to think some sort of stadium project was viable. "If done right,” you argue “a stadium could be a piece of Point Douglas's ongoing success, and the land downriver from ancient Fort Douglas could be the place where art, history, and CFL football meet." I'm more than a little uncertain as to how any development of this scale, which ostensibly serves the interests of suburban middle-class city residents, could ever be good for the people of Point Douglas or for the residential communities near by. This sort of project seems be a classic example of supposed urban redevelopment exasperating economic and social segregation. Who after all can afford to go to professional sporting events, concerts and shows at these new facilities? Who will be able to shop in the stores, pay for admission to a water park or purchase a condominium over looking the Red River?

Perhaps I’m being unduly cynical but this development seems more about securing the value of commercial real estate in the downtown by removing so-called “blight” than about adding to Point Douglas’s ongoing success.

PS. This is a great blog and I appreciate the depth of your understanding of urban reform and the history of Winnipeg. Thanks.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL 750 K.

Good for him, now they can't expropriate.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing that concerns me the most about this whole issue is that where are the people going to go?

All this stadium is going to do is displace the problems that the city would rather ignore, much to the detriment of the surrounding neighborhoods.. namely, Elmwood.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the Asper could possibly work, but what we have seen so far is not fitting the neighbourhood. I like the part of the plan that reclaims the riverbank. Having a navigable riverwalk from the Leg to the Lousie Bridge could lead to more residential development in the Point.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous #1 might be obsequious, but nonetheless is correct. There is no possible way this can be "done right." Expropriating homes and wiping out historic neighborhood to build a minor-league football stadium (particularly when there are two other sites available that would avoid all this) would be a criminal act of malicious and insensitive planning in the same vein, yet on an even greater magnitude, than every mega-project before it.

This soft endorsement constitutes a rare lack of acumen on the part of Mr. Galston.

1:17 AM  
Blogger David Watson said...

My neighbours have visited Jordan Sewell's wonderful hand built home in Mexico. Jordan will always have a home to live in no matter what Mayor Katz, Phil Sheegl and David Asper decide today.
The matter of "voice" is always a difficult one. Marty Gold has always asked who speaks for the people of South Point Douglas. The fact that all of those residents could fit into my small house does not take away their right to be heard. NPD has achieved a critical mass so that it can be heard. South PD is not that evolved along the path to a unified collective response yet. Given time they could be, but the bulldozers might be already on the way.
Canada Packers (St.B) is a good site for the stadium. The Southwood Golf Course being bought by the U of M is a good site. Even Polo Park may a better site than what we have been offered in SPD.
Development in our own backyard is very hard to assess, there is no ability to step back for perspective. I empathize with Robert's position. Like a mouse he is living under the shadow of the elephant and like us he has no idea where it is going. Is it better to shoot the elephant or is it better to let it wander off on its own?

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


something that i noticed its the images the media show don't have the msg about them being concepts where on his site they do?

based on whats been released so far i would say its the stupidest thing ever demolition of a whole chunk of the city...... this will cut npd off from spd and downtown even more :S and who wants to ride a bike threw parking lot hell on a hot summers day or walk threw there on a windy winters day? gee as it is now spd is more alive now then it has ever been in my whole life?

as for jody listing his house thats brilliant power to him

and abel whole sale's curent owner wants to develope it for residential mix use and the city told him to get lost even when he had buyers linde up? and so he too 2 floors off it and will go ahead again with a smaller building and add a 3rd floor but since this has popped out who knows what will happen realy shame to the city is playing hard ball on the zoneing :'(

12:56 AM  

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