This week I have challenged myself to find a topic for my “Leonard vs Life” blog. I have decided that since all of my 58 years of life has been spent in Winnipeg, it would be a piece of work to explain what Winnipeg really is.
1. Winnipeg is one of the largest cities in Canada. NOT. Winnipeg is smaller than Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Those cities have populations in excess of 1.3 million citizens. Winnipeg, is a slow growth city of only 760,000 residents.
2. Winnipeg has always been a city of urban sprawl. NOT. Winnipeg was a small city mostly centrally located around the downtown area until 1971. Before that it was surrounded by many smaller cities; each with their own mayor, council, city hall and police/fire departments. They included the cities of West Kildonan, East Kildonan, Transcona, St. Vital, Fort Garry, Tuxedo, Charleswood and Brooklands. All of these cities were merged into a Unicity called Winnipeg in 1971.
3. Winnipeg has always been a railroad center. NOT. The CPR originally was to be located north of Winnipeg in the City of Selkirk but Winnipeg enticed CPR to locate in Winnipeg by giving them tax free land in the center of the city for rail yards. To this day they are still located in the heart of Winnipeg obstructing growth.
4. Winnipeg has a vibrant nightlife. NOT. Winnipeg is a weekend city. Most bars and clubs are closed or empty on Monday through Wednesday. The city will come alive Thursday through Saturday.
5. Winnipeg has a vibrant downtown. NOT. With the exception of the NHL Jets and the odd concert. The downtown of Winnipeg is empty after dark. Fear of gangs and personal safety plays a major roll in this phenomenon. Hardly like big city action.
6. Winnipeg has a large downtown population. NOT. Although a few thousand residents live downtown there hasn’t been any major residential development of housing in Downtown Winnipeg since the 70’s. All major cities have 25 to 100 high-rise condo or apartment complex areas each holding 1000 or more residents. Not Winnipeg. We have subsidized apartment blocks or housing built in the early 1900’s cluttering downtown development. The Waterfront area is the only recent area of downtown development and that is low density.
7. Winnipeg is too cold for homelessness. NOT. Winnipeg has a large homeless population, with missions and food banks a major industry. This has furtherstifled downtown development.
Next week I will conclude with the final 7 misconceptions of my city that I call ‘Little Winnipeg.’