Friday, August 15, 2008

"...and there is no health in us"

Move over, grain. Take a hike, railways. Manufacturing and wholesale, you still here? There's a new chief industry rising in Winnipeg: sick people. In recent years, the expansion of health facilities and bureaucracies to serve them are spreading through the inner city like a cancer.

Health Sciences Centre, a juggernaut that will soon consume Weston Bakery and residents of Elgin Avenue, is a continual hive of construction activity.

On North Main from the tracks to St. John's Park, there are today probably more medical clinics than there were stalls at the Stella Ave. farmer's market forty years ago.

Outside HSC, two of the three most significant buildings rising out of the ground in central Winnipeg right now are offices for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. (The third is the Sky Loft Condos, which after a few years of delay is taking shape on Waterfront and Pacific Ave.)

There is of course Centre Venture's folly on Main and Logan, and also what appears to be a similarly-sized building on the corner of Portage and Toronto St.

And it doesn't end there. One local architect says that the WRHA's future projects include "a new centrally located 100,000 sq. ft. bldg [bigger than the Electric Railway Chambers]."

Don't expect any more effort into presenting a building that compliments rather than detracts from the physical space from WRHA than they are putting into the mystery block on Main. "That's what you get when you go Design-Build and lease the building. The WRHA will continue to do this for all future projects..."

Like a massive public works project like the floodway, the hydro-electric monopoly's office consolidation on Portage Ave., a government-led automobile suburb in southwest Winnipeg (named after a police shooting range--hmm, topical), all this health construction helps keeps our provincial economy looking "red-hot" on paper. It gives something to proclaim proudly from the business page, governments and their servants to pat themselves on the back for, and maybe even a chance for Gary Doer to ride that "endangered downtown construction crane" joke for another nine years. But to look any deeper is to find out how depressingly hollow all this activity is. Never mind economic sickness and dysfunction, it is coming from a city and province that is literally becoming more physically and mentally (and spiritually...) unhealthy and dysfunctional.

4 Comments:

Blogger cherenkov said...

unhealthy, dysfunctional, and swimming in debt.

1:32 AM  
Blogger cmperry said...

Reminds me of Heather Robertson's book, Grass Roots, in which she described dying prairie small towns, where the only growth was in nursing homes and extended care facilities for dying country folk. And that was in the 70s. Death as the growth industry writ large in moribund Winnipeg.

4:03 PM  
Blogger cmperry said...

BTW, like the quote from the Anglican General Confession.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

This blog deserves an AMEN!!!

10:05 PM  

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