Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Skid row's high-end grocery; Waterfront Drive's phantom residents

I may not be doing any posting in the next week, so, if you're looking for snarky commentary on all things Winnipeg, you'll have to find it elsewhere--for now.


I will say, however, that I am pleasantly surprised with the new Main Meats & Groceteria location, which is just across the street from its former location at 654 Main Street, between Logan and Henry. While the west side of Main promises nothing but destructive banality (did you hear the ground floor retail in the WRHA parkade structure is out?), the new Main Meats has given the east side of Main the semblance of a functional city street, and the surprisingly attractive new facade gives Metro Meats the look of a high end grocer.

The interior space is much larger than their old premsises, so here is hoping, as someone who lives nearby, that they expand their selection of goods.

In the latest issue of The Point newsletter, artist and Point Douglas resident Jordan Van Sewall wrote of something that others have noticed as well: that in spite of condo units on Waterfront Drive selling briskly, very few people appear to be living in them. Will this "critical mass" of out of town condo speculators be enough for the streets of the East Exchange to liven up (outside of business hours), and for the district to finally get that magical supermarket? It's a little hard when your pedestrians and customers are living in West St. Paul or Vancouver.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm moving into my condo as soon as my job that takes me to Calgary 3 out of 4 weeks a month wraps up in November.

Looking foward to living in Winnipeg's downtown, even more so since I grew up in Charleswood at my parents house where the perimeter was my back yard.

11:39 PM  
Anonymous J. Jacobs said...

Funny thing about Winnipeggers is they think they have it all figured out. The dumbest hicks think they are urbane sophisticates. At least in other places the rubes will admit to being "simple folk," but here in Winnipeg our bumpkins will wear their university degrees or Osborne Village addresses as a cloak of pretentiousness with which they will feign understanding of how cities work.

Present company excepted, of course, Mr. Galston. Your commitment to this city and to the study of urbanism in general can be construed as downright sacrificial, but what would delight me is if some of the sycophantic charlatans who read this blog--in particular the BRT "coalition" crew--would come to the realization that they are neither urbane nor cultured nor particularly intelligent, just misguidedly technocratic and unconsciously anti-urban. Yes I'm talking to you Paul Hesse, et al.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Paul Hesse said...

Mr. Jacobs,

Care to elaborate on how I am unconsciously anti-urban?


3:11 PM  
Anonymous j.jacobs said...

I think you know Mr. Hesse. It starts with your support of the sprawl-feeding, district-destroying "BRT" plan.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Paul Hesse said...

Here are a few reasons why a dedicated BRT transitway leads to densification and is good for an urban Winnipeg:

1) reduces single occupancy vehicle commuting to downtown

2) reduces demand for parking downtown

3) will lead to a compact and pedestrian oriented and transit oriented re-development of the Fort Rouge Yards (and hopefully beside the other stops too)

4) reduces single occupancy vehicle commuting to the UofM

5) reduces demand for surface parking at the UofM

6) creates a commuter cycling path beside the transitway (yes, that's part of the plan), thereby strengthening points 1-5, above.

7) gets people seeing transit differently in this city; namely a speedy, more attractive system.

If you're a fan of LRT or a subway, I understand where you're coming from. I've used them in other cities and enjoyed them.

But unless we've met and chatted for a while, I'd ask you to reserve judgment about whether or not I'm anti-urban or whatever.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hesse is just another Liberal trying to get some progressive cred in between elections before he like all good Liberals swing back to the business friendly right when they win.

Thank God Jen Howard is my MLA.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, thank god for Jen Howard and the NDP.

Lord knows that after almost a decade in power with a solid majority that Doer and his followers like Howard have done so much for urban planing and rapid transit. The complete lack of bike lanes, any movement toward rapid transit and sprawl developments are the legacy of the so called "progressive" NDP government in Manitoba.

At least Paul Hesse and the Manitoba Liberal party made transit and urban planning a key plank of their platform last election. Something that can not be said for backwards looking parties like Howard's NDP and the Tories.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous j.jacobs said...

1) only if ridership drastically increases, which it won't

2) see above

3) are you smoking crack?

4) see 1&2

5) see 1, 2 & 4

6) only affects a tiny minority of the commuting population

7) see 1, 2, 4

Here's what else the proposed BRT would do:

1) Turn city streets into high-speed busways

2) Eliminate on-street parking along said urban thoroughfares, causing further detriment to what little storefront enterprise remains in the central city

3) Will delay and ostensibly obviate the the implementation of a true rapid transit solution

4) Will facilitate sprawl

Mr. Hesse, I know enough about you and your ideas to identify you as a clueless charlatan blindly following Axworthy and Murray's equally clueless scheme to bring yet another anti-urban, destructive idea in the tradition of Winnipeg Square, North Portage Development (Portage Place), Core Area Initiative, the Civic Centre, etc. to our already beleaguered city. If you don't understand why, a Mr. Jeff Lowe of Lipton Street ought to be easy enough to get hold of; he'll gladly fill you in on why your efforts are misguided and ultimately pernicious.

I'm not only calling you out but am challenging you to a public debate (which will be recorded and broadcast via YouTube or Google Video) at a time and venue of your choosing.

And anyone who thinks the NDP are any more (or less) pro-urban or pro-transit is seriously deluded. Dumb Hick Syndrome in Manitoba is a non-partisan phenomenon.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Kaj said...

Mr. Jacobs,

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It’s fine if you don’t agree with Paul Hesse’s stand on transit and other projects, but you don’t need to throw personal insults at him. Please stick to the issues, and respect everyone’s right to have their own point of view – even when you don’t agree with it.

Kaj Hasselriis

9:57 AM  
Anonymous j.jacobs said...

Kaj, your argument makes no sense. I haven't wavered from the issues. We're talking about the anti-urban properties of BRT here, in case you weren't following. I haven't sufficient knowledge of Mr. Hesse's personality to make a personal attack. I do know, however, that anyone, (even if he has a McGill law degree, or status as former mayor [or for that matter mayoral candidate], or Minister of Foreign Affairs or whatever) who advocates said plan, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is worse than worthless, suffers from an astonishing lack of intelligence and a hick mentality. Just stating the facts.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

I can't imagine JJ doing a worse job of convincing others of his opinion. I agree that the government could and should do way more to improve public transportation and that such a move is desperately needed in order to improve the quality of life in the city.

Regardless, JJ, you managed to call most people who would be sympathetic to you the following:
"The dumbest hicks", "rubes", "bumpkins" insulted all residents of Osborne Village, all people with degrees...and you called a wide swath of the populace "pretentious". Do you think that helped your case?

Now, that said, you "feign understanding of how cities work" and so I am curious about your qualifications.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd never take BRT:

-I can easily afford to drive
-I can easily afford to park

Why would I start taking the bus? Because it has a dedicated lane? It is still small, it is still uncomfortable, it still requires me to wait outside, it still has traffic lights to deal with.

Sorry, but I can afford better.

Anyone who thinks BRT will appeal to people can afford to do otherwise is delusional. It will be the same ghetto system as Wpg transit.

Why would I take the bus? If offers no advantages over a car to me, it won't lead to the development density that will driving more less appealing.

Winnipeg needs a rail solution, anything else is a pitiful half measure that will result in about as much rejuvenation as Portage Place did.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Perennial Machete said...

J Jacobs: you claim that you haven't waivered from the issues in favour of cheap ad hominems???

Your response to Paul Hesse's point that the city's BRT plan would facilitate some densification by virtue of the Fort Rouge Yards development was "Are you smoking crack?"...

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Paul Hesse said...

There are a few key misunderstandings about transitways that need to be cleared up.

First of all, buses don't have to stop for lights on dedicated transitways. They speed along on a bus (and emergency vehicle) only right of way. That right of way is along the rail corridors running out of downtown.

Permanent and comfortable stations would be built at the relatively few stops along the route. Those stops can be properly heated in the winter.

Real-time notices of bus arrivals would be part of the system (i.e. #60 bus in 5 minutes etc.)

This is a very different and improved system to what we are used to. But not at all revolutionary.

For an example, please see this video about Bogata's BRT.

For another example, please look at Ottawa's system.

BRT may not be perfect, but dedicated busways along our rail corridors, with commuter cycling paths built beside them, would be a real improvement for Winnipeg.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous j.jacobs said...

"...buses don't have to stop for lights..."

Great Paul, just what we need--bus freeways! Eviscerating the inner city. How urban is that? And what are the buses going to do along, say, Portage Avenue or Main Street? Keep in mind these are city streets, not rapid highways. Get real. "Rapid transit" by definition requires grade separation--above or below.

"properly heated in the winter..."

Great, improved bus shacks. Will they be better than the wood ones we had for decades until the early 90s?

"Real-time notices of bus arrivals..."

Meaningless gimmickry. Real rapid transit comes consistently enough that you don't need to look at a sign to know it's coming soon.

"Bogota's BRT"

Why don't you go and check it out yourself? Afraid of being kidnapped.

"please look at Ottawa's system..."

I have. It's a joke.

"dedicated busways along our rail corridors..."

Don't go where pedestrians already are.

This is what I mean by anti-urban and clueless. And this is not an "ad homenim" statement; it's a statement of fact. Since the BRT plan has been rejected and refuted so many times, it's more of an ad nauseum, or perhaps ad infinitum, argument I'm frankly sick of having to make. You might add "thick-headedness" to your list of attributes, since you've been presented with these shortcomings so many times before and have refused to consider them. Human patience has its limits.

If, however, you insist on persisting with your advocacy of this useless plan, you can either accept my challenge to a public debate that will be videotaped for YouTube/Google Video, or my palmcorder and I will soon seek you out and confront you about your unwillingness to acknowledge the calamity that this incorrigible scheme would bring to our city.

Why you even read this blog I don't even know. Even if his ego appreciates your fawning over his writing, I've heard from Rob's own mouth on innumerable occasions that he thinks you and the rest of the BRT "coalition" are mentally challenged, to put it politely and euphemistically.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous j.jacobs said...

And perennial machete, anyone who thinks the BRT plan is going to spawn new urbanist development around the Ft. Rouge yards must be smoking crack, or tripping on acid, or is just so out of touch with reality some medication for schizophrenia ought to be prescribed.

mike m, don't worry about my qualifications. They're better than yours, not that it matters, because truth and common sense are on our side.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with j.jacobs.

We need a Monorail.


Right here in River City...

3:17 PM  
Blogger Louis Riel said...

J.Jacobs sounds a lot like Dallas Hanson.

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Riel can't spell.

1:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ottawa's system is a joke? As someone who's lived in Ottawa and Winnipeg for equal amounts of time I can honestly say I'd trade Winnipeg's public transit system for Ottawa's in a heartbeat.

Ottawa has also just announced that a large portion of the transitway (Baseline to St Laurent I believe) will be upgraded to LRT because BRT is running at capacity.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bus "Transitways": A Triumph of Marketing – A Failure of Rigorous Analysis"

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A report commissioned by the Ottawa Regional Council has revealed that between 1984 and 1997 transit ridership dropped 18% from 86 million trips annually to 70 million trips. Over the same period, population increased by 24% resulting in an effective decrease of 32% in market share. Similar sized Canadian cities, such as Calgary and Edmonton, which opted for light rail systems achieved passenger growth over the same period.

Despite the massive spending on the transitway OC Transpo's buses still run on-street through Ottawa's CBD and their on-time performance is extremely poor. OC Transpo's own figures show that in September 1997 approximately 40% of buses operating on weekdays did not meet the on-time performance standard.

OC Transpo's 1987 forecast projection of 106 million passengers by 1996 was hopelessly optimistic with in reality only 71 million passengers being carried.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Randal O'Toole, why don't you give the most recent numbers?

9:42 AM  
Blogger Louis Riel said...

How is it that the jokers at TruWinnipeg manage to ruin every single online discussion on urbanism in Winnipeg?

What have you jokers actually DONE to achieve your goals? Why all the bitterness, hostility and resentment?

Is it because there are some people who are out there actually trying to change this town? Even if they are baby steps, they are steps nonetheless, and you have been guilty of nothing but insulting and stepping on toes for several years now.

Give it up.

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baby steps? Winnipeg has been talking rapid transit for 50 years. Just do it.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you doing Louis Riel?

TRU Winnipeg has published voluminous articles and information on urbanism and the state of the city today. Axworthy, Murray, Borland, Hesse and the bunch have done nothing but push disinformation about a busway plan that would not be a "baby step" forward, but a huge step backward.

Frankly you must be exactly the sort of dumb hick who thinks the knows what he's talking about that j.jacobs mentioned.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous n said...

Publishing articles that you post on your website is one thing but developing a political and citizen enthusiasm for a rail-based transit system (which I personally would much prefer) is where TRU Winnipeg should be focusing its efforts.

If you've got the better plan, show us specifics: how much will it cost? who will pay for it? what is the timeframe? what is the ROI after ten/twenty/thirty years? Show us how you will get politicians onside.

Frankly, the on-the-ground work to get rail-based transit at a level where the people who actually make the decisions will even start considering it is sorely lacking. And, Mr. Hansen, you and your crew are doing nothing whatsoever to bring people onboard. I would never show my name or my face in support of TRU Winnipeg because I will not willingly be seen supporting a group who thinks so little of the population, yet still feels the need to attack the 95% of them who don't entirely agree with your views.

Think about who you're trying to attract to your cause and work *positively* towards getting them onboard.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Jarrett said...

Dallas Hansen has done little more than raise a few valid concerns about the city’s rapid transit plan (border vacuums, the bus’s ability to attract ridership as opposed to a trains), refused to acknowledge that any creativity could at least moderate some of these problems (as has been done in other cases, why doesn’t someone talk about Vancouver’s 99 B-Line? I’ve lived in Vancouver and West Broadway is NOT a freeway), and then combines his criticism with endless personal insults and sarcasm that sounds like something from the O’Reilly Factor or Rush Limbaugh.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 99 B-Line is not rapid transit--it's called an express bus.

Norman D. Wilson already outlined the timetable. Regardless of the current cost, which would have to be recalculated based on contemporary construction considerations, the implementation of Wilson's subway plan will pay for itself based on increased property tax revenues from improved property values (no one would dispute that there is much room for improvement) surrounding the subway stations. Most of the funding would come from the federal & provincial levels. If you look at the this ground has all been covered many times over.

In the words of Venetian Snares, Winnipeg is a Frozen Shithole; thus nothing less than a subway will allow us to compete for residents in this age of global mobility, where almost anyone can live almost anywhere.

And the monorail joke has gotten old, though it was lame to begin with. I can't think of too many things more lowbrow than quoting and plagiarizing The Simpsons.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Louis Riel said...

People don't choose cities based on whether or not they have a subway. Jobs are usually the number one deciding factor.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jobs" is kind of vague—what kind of jobs? The creative class isn't interested in driving a forklift. Subway stations create the kinds of neighborhoods that are dense, interesting, convenient, and livable.

Again, you're thinking country styles—if it were all about "jobs" then Winnipeg, with its comparatively low unemployment rates vis-a-vis many other places, would be growing. To attract people, cities have to be attractive. Living via the block heater and the windshield scraper is not a lifestyle most of the professional world wants to indulge. There are high-paying jobs working in Iraq, but are you going to sign up? You see my point.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

"Norman D. Wilson outlined the timetable"...almost 40 years ago. The cost, timing, and usefulness of the system cannot be estimated on the basis of the old plan. A new comprehensive study should be done if we are ever going to move forward on this.

Word to the wise - refering to Winnipeg as "a Frozen Shithole" is not the most politically competent move. Do those comments help or hinder the promotion of rapid transit? Call me a "hick", "lowbrow" or "bumpkin" but I think that some better marketing skills might help.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Jarrett said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but a 99 B-line type of bus is what is proposed for Portage Avenue.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Louis Riel said...

re: Jobs
We are in agreement that the 'type' of jobs available will determine what kind people are or are not attracted to a city. This has everything to do with the nature of the local economy.

Vancouver and Calgary do not have subways, yet are able to attract the kind of people (NotHicks?) that you so desperately crave, Dallas.

That said, you behave more like a belligerent stuck-in-his-ways small-towner than anyone I've met who is actually trying to ACCOMPLISH something here.

The irony is pretty impressive.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous j.jacobs said...

"Louis Riel"—the BRT crowd are trying to ACCOMPLISH what? The further destruction of the downtown and inner city? Not exactly a noble ambition.

Jarrett—Portage Avenue already has an express bus. How would adding articulated buses (which can be dangerous driven at high speeds in winter conditions) rejuvenate the beleaguered inner city? Adding a diamond lane will just rob the few remaining storefront businesses of essential on-street parking. With eight lanes of traffic, do parking bans make sense? We've been over this, again & again.

Mike—a truly urban rapid transit system must serve the pre-WWII grid, which is exactly what the Wilson plan would do. The ground was surveyed for the 1968 Winnipeg Area Transportation study. Obviously a new engineer's report and further study would be necessary, which is certainly preferable to cheerleading a poorly considered BRT plan that originated in the early 1980s and has failed to inspire the masses to demand its implementation. The Wilson subway plan, however, inspired throughout the 1960s such editorials as "Do it now" and "We need a subway" and "Transit Dream: $1 Billion" before Juba discredited the entire endeavor with his monorail blather.

The "Frozen Shithole" comes from the name of an LP by the highly successful Winnipeg-based electronic recording artist Venetian Snares, and accurately reflects many outsiders' (and former residents such as myself) view of Winnipeg. If you disagree with the manner in which I present my message that's fine—because I'm not particularly fond of the mendacious manner in which the BRTers propagate theirs. Besides, you would attack the Wilson plan regardless—it offends, by being too grandiose, the average Winnipeggers beloved inferiority complex. What else could explain such a widespread love for an inferior bus-based scheme?

All for now guys—I've got a subway train to catch.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Riel dude, Calgary is hick central (yeeeehaw!) and Vancouver has a subway downtown and is building another one right down its middle along Cambie Street as I type this. Do your homework son!

9:07 PM  
Anonymous R.Moses said...

Hmmmm... Riel's blog is titled "Tales From The Hick-Belt Hilton."

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The subway cultists are amusing.

Nothing like worshiping a 40 year old plan that never went anywhere...

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



Calling people mentally-challenged and throwing insults around?

What a fabulous way to make your point.

I wouldn't advise anyone to participate in a debate with you - it would be next to impossible to engage in a meaningful discussion with someone who stoops so low.

12:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing like worshipping a 25 year-old plan that sucks....

12:46 AM  
Anonymous Jarrett said...

Where in the 2005 RTTF report does it say that speed limits will be increased along Portage Ave? I thought that speed was to be increased by introducing off vehicle fare collection and instituting traffic lights programmed to prioritze transit vehicles (as with the 99 B)...and also yes to use the dreaded diamond lane.

I understand the concern about losing on-street parking, but it's not as though other parking opportunities along portage are non-existent... it's a disadvantage to the plan, but on balance does it make it worse than nothing?

Are you sure that your anger with this plan isn't just the opportunity cost...I'd much rather the city undertake a more ambitious rail-based project, and I lament that this serves as a distraction from something more meaningful...but as Donald Rumsfeld said..."you go to war with the army you have"...and some people say that war is going well.

But before anything happens I'll be long gone from this city and enjoying montreal's transit system.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But before anything happens I'll be long gone from this city and enjoying montreal's transit system."

me too... lol

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Funny thing about Winnipeggers is they think they have it all figured out. The dumbest hicks think they are urbane sophisticates."

And they lover their banners and slogans.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Funny thing about Winnipeggers is they think they have it all figured out. The dumbest hicks think they are urbane sophisticates."

And they love their banners and slogans.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

"Besides, you would attack the Wilson plan regardless—it offends, by being too grandiose, the average Winnipeggers beloved inferiority complex."

Wrong. I'd love to have a system like that in place. But, the research needs to be entirely re-done and fine-tuned for Winnipeg in 2008 and the projected Winnipeg of the next 50 years.

Assumptions and insults only get you so far, Dallas.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What winnipeg needs is Not BRT, LRT or a subway.
Winnipeg is a car orientated city, one only needs to think of sunday nights in the summer to realize that. For that reason alone, all those wonderful ideas of various forms of rapid transit are basically pointless and a waste of money, at this moment.

IF we want to bring the down town core back to life we need to a) clean up the crime and make it safe and b) make housing in the core look attractive.

Its the crime and the slum lords that cause the people who have money want to flee to the new developments and thus fuel the sprawl. its also those people who would more then likely use the rapid transit if it was viable.
its one step at a time.

-Travis B

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Paul Hesse said...

If anyone wants to continue this discussion in real-time, come out to the following event.

Sustainable Transportation Film Event

The Planners Network, Bike to the Future and the Winnipeg Rapid Transit Coalition invite you to a watch short movies about sustainable transportation from around the world.

Q&A to follow

Wednesday, June 18, 2008
7:30pm - 9:30pm
Gas Station Theatre
445 River Avenue

Tickets: $5 in advance, $7 at the door

Advance tickets available by contacting:
Jan Miller
Katy Walsh (

1:43 PM  
Anonymous j.jacobs said...

Sorry Paul, can't make it—I'll be busy doing urban studies field research in neighborhoods you wouldn't dare stroll day or night. But if, even after the articulated buses have proved their impracticality for our climate, you want to keep on championing Axworthy's ill-thought BRT scheme, we can debate this mano à mano when I'm in town in July.

Nothing to be afraid of—you debate people for a living right? Speaking of that, you might mention to the partners in your firm that their 1995-ish website is overdue for a redesign.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Paul Hesse said...


I don't understand why you're making this personal.

Hope you caught the Free Press special on Sunday on Rapid Transit, with views by citizens who want the City to build its Rapid Transit plan.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call it what you want, but the BRT plan isn't Rapid Transit.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Jim Jaworski said...

Louis Riel says that Vancouver doesn't have a subway...

Then what exactly is the Canada Line, which will open sometime in 2009 between the Airport and downtown Vancouver?

It's 99% underground, the very definition of a subway.

Know the facts facts, man before you speak.

Vancouver's Canada Line

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Jim Jaworski said...

Mike Petkau wrote:

``Wrong. I'd love to have a system like that in place. But, the research needs to be entirely re-done and fine-tuned for Winnipeg in 2008 and the projected Winnipeg of the next 50 years.``

I`ll agree with you there Mike, and that`s where the $17 M should be spent.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Nuraffinah said...

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4:21 AM  

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