Merry Xmas & No Network

A couple weeks ago, I received a notification from Bell, who is my provider. It thanked me for my recent upgrade and the adjusted balance owing for the device.

The issue here is that I never upgraded or, for that matter, entered any store or contacted Bell, for any reason.  I have a Samsung Note 3 so I use the Shaw wireless network for connecting to the Internet. 

I started my day by trying to answer a text SMS message which is transmitted over the cell network. No luck. The texts would not send. I then tried to call my number. No Network.

I rebooted my device and there was still “No Network”. Now what? This is my only phone.  All I could dial us 911. The wifi was working fine so I tried to contact Bell to find out a reason for being without any network. 


The Bell chat is a big aggravating experience. They start by transferring you to technical support even if you select it. I spoke with 4 different experts and each one gave me a different story. No solutions. One person told me to go and visit the store. One gave me the accounts phone number. I even got a number to the Fraud line. Still, I had no phone. Still, I had no solutions. Heaven only knows where the chat center was but it was not Bell.

The next day, Black Friday, I went to Visions and was told that I had to call the Fraud people at Bell. Next stop was the phone.

The Bell fraud department was extremely helpful. I explained that my SIM had been changed during the so called “upgrade.”  Now, I live in Winnipeg and the upgrade was done at a store in Calgary. Hmmmm?

The Fraud guy could see all the transactions and he asked me to hold while he called the Calgary store. After about 10 minutes, he returned and said it was a mistake in Calgary.  He immediately re-entered my correct SIM and asked me to reboot. Then he called me on my device and voilà….. It worked!

This is a lesson on how a careless clerk, in a busy season, can cause one heck of a lot of aggravating hours, with one entry on a keyboard. Wonder how it worked out for the person in Calgary? Season’s greetings to all!

Long Phone Call


Winnipeg and the Polar Vortex

This week winter arrives to most of North America.  It comes as a Polar Vortex and will affect all but 8 states. Below is a link that explains what should happen throughout the week (click the picture). Bundle up.


Once Upon A Rock Festival

Many years ago, almost 45 to be exact, I was barely 15 years old and the summers were chalk full of Rock Festivals.  In 1970, to celebrate the 100th Birthday of the province of Manitoba, a huge rock festival was planned. I WAS GOING TO BE THERE. ThIs festival would be called MANPOP.


With a government grant we were assured to have the biggest and best Rock Bands of the day at the Winnipeg Stadium. 

These day’s, you can fill a stadium with one or two acts, but back then it was 16 hours of Rock, for today’s cost of a beer.  The tickets were well worth the money.  The local bands would start the day and as time flew by, the entertainment got better and better. 

The local bands included: The Fifth, Chopping Block, Mongrels, Justin Tyme, and Dianne Heatherington (she was our Canadian answer to Janis Joplin).

The 20,000 or so party animals were rocking up a storm and suddenly the sky turned black and the winds picked up and the torrential rains began. The festival would have been over, but arrangements were made to open the Arena next door and continue the festival.  It almost never happened, but some last minute negotiations kept the party going until about 4am.

The rest of this blog was taken from the Winnipeg Free Press archives and Wikipedia.  My memory was missing some details that I needed to validate:

The Man-Pop Festival was a music festival held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on August 29, 1970. Led Zeppelin was the headlining act at the event. Other artists performing at the festival included The Youngbloods, The Ides of March, Iron Butterfly, Chilliwack, plus local bands, including Dianne Heatherington and The Merry Go Round.

The Man-Pop Festival was originally scheduled to take place at the outdoor Winnipeg Stadium. However, a summer rain storm tore down the awning protecting the stage soaking the PA system and amps, which forced the organizers to belatedly move the festival into the nearby Winnipeg Arena. This venue had lower capacity than that of the stadium, and when this capacity was reached, some 800 valid ticket holders were refused admission. This caused a near riot at the entrances of the arena, with many of its glass doors being kicked in by angry patrons.

Tickets for the festival cost $5.50 to $12.50. Led Zeppelin’s fee was $50,000. Because of the delays caused by the change of venues, Led Zeppelin did not actually take the stage until the early hours of the morning, and did so voluntarily, since they had already been paid pursuant to a rain clause in their original contract. It was through the exhortations of local singer Dianne Heatherington, whose national reputation came later, that Led Zeppelin was finally persuaded to perform.

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As a 15 year old teen this was one of the highlights of my youth.  And so goes another chapter in Leonard vs Life.

Winnipeg Taxis: In Short Supply

I have been in the taxi business since 1973.  I did spend several years as a professional jewelry appraiser and Graduate Gemologist.  I also worked as a manager for a large contact center.  My years in the taxi industry included driving, dispatching, training, owning and supervision. 

About 30 years of my working years involved taxis and I also developed a supreme knowledge of Winnipeg. Below is a section of the Taxicab Board website.  They operate currently under the provincial ministry of Municipal Government.  The mandate has not been followed.  Please enjoy the blog.


The Taxicab Board is an independent quasi-judicial administrative tribunal established under authority of The Manitoba Taxicab Act to licence and regulate all taxicabs, wheelchair vans and limousines operating in the City of Winnipeg. As legislated, Board membership includes a member of the City of Winnipeg Council, the Chief Constable of the Winnipeg Police Force, and five other persons appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

The mandate of the Taxicab Board is to ensure that persons within Winnipeg receive adequate taxicab service at a reasonable cost. The Board fulfils this objective through engaging in the following activities:

Conducts public hearings to consider applications for:
more and/or different classes of licences,
fare increases,
industry proposals,
interest group(s’) proposals, etc.;
Establish, review, and revise the limit on the number of taxicab licences, as determined by public convenience and necessity;
Control and issue taxicab business licences;
Review and approve taxicab business licence transfers;
Issue taxicab driver licences;
Facilitate training for taxicab drivers;
Assess and establish the fare structure and monitor actual rates charged;
Implement a comprehensive inspection program for taxicabs including general inspections, street patrols, mechanical inspections, and taxicab meter inspections;
Investigate and resolve complaints against taxicab operators and drivers;
Discipline taxicab operators and drivers by conducting Show Cause Hearings on perceived violations of legislation and regulations, or on complaints;
Monitor the accessibility of transportation for the physically disabled;
Monitor the health and viability of the taxicab industry in Winnipeg;
Determine policy and procedures which arise in the exercise of the Board’s discretionary powers and provide policy input to the Government on broader taxicab policy issues; and
Maintain a liaison with the taxicab industry, user interest groups, other taxicab regulatory agencies and governments.

Manitoba is the only province in Canada that has jurisdiction over the taxi business in its cities. All other cities in the other provinces control their mass transit including Taxis.

Winnipeg had 300 taxis way back in 1947. It was decided by the province that an additional 100 taxis was needed to provide employment for war veterans.  A company called Veterans Nash was formed in 1947.  That brought the total to 400 taxis in Winnipeg. 
Approximately 40 years later the province added 10 taxis in a luxury class.  These Cadillac taxis ran under a company called Blue Line, however, after 5 years it failed and those plates were converted to regular taxis bringing the total taxis in Winnipeg to 410.

Since then the Taxicab Board has added about 41 Accessible Taxis to the Winnipeg fleet. These are vans with wheelchair access. Total increase in 66 years is a whopping 51 taxis.  Winnipeg only has 451 taxis.  Compared to other similar cities we are very short on cabs.

The following statistics are drawn from Statistics Canada 2011-2013 and the Websites of the cities to be mentioned.

  • So, Winnipeg has 451 units to service 750,000 citizens or 1 taxi per 1662 souls.  Cost: $1.38/km
  • Calgary has 1466 units to service 1,214,839 citizens or 1 taxi per 829 souls.  Cost. $1.55/km
  • Edmonton has 1971 units to service 1,159,869 citizens or 1 taxi per 588 souls.  Cost.  $1.48km
  • Regina has 146 units to service 230,000 citizens or 1 taxi per 1250 souls. Cost. $1.81km

Winnipeg has the lowest cost taxi rides of the above samples. We also have a fraction of the taxis. Funny thing is that the price to pay if you want to purchase a taxi is about $450,000.  In the other cities named the purchase cost is a fraction of that.

Winnipeg taxi owners have a monopoly on taxis since the Taxicab Board supports this monopoly and refuses to allow more taxicabs in Winnipeg. 

Immediately, the new city council should begin negotiations with the province to take over the taxi service in its city.  The province doesn’t seem to realize that we have urban sprawl and almost twice the population since 1948.

The taxi service in Winnipeg is awful. So bad that a trip to our new airport can’t be guaranteed to be on time or even show up. 

If you go out for the evening and plan on a few drinks, do you deserve to wait 30 minutes to go out and even longer to return? Yes, if taxis were readily available we would reduce the drinking and driving.

Shame on the provincial government for not enforcing the mandate to provide service. It’s time to break the monopoly and bring Winnipeg in line with (at least) Regina. 1 taxi for every 1250 citizens. You want a better Winnipeg for visitors and its citizens. Start with the taxi service. It requires no civic investment. I’m embarrassed to have to force a 45 minute wait for a taxi at times. 

We should not be the lowest cost taxi and we should be able to service all of Winnipeg promptly. 

In closing, you should know that with the exception of Toronto and Vancouver, a taxi trades for 50 to 250 thousand dollars. Winnipeg = $450,000.



14 Misconceptions About Winnipeg Part 2

Once again 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. 

Last week I presented 7 points that if improved would help put Winnipeg on the map as a Destination City. Here now are the final 7 points that would make Winnipeg a better place to live, rather than leave.

8. Winnipeg is one of the largest cities in Canada.  Barely. Statistics Canada says: Winnipeg is the 8th largest city in Canada with a population of 771,221 (2013).

Winnipeg has a significant and increasing Aboriginal population, with both the highest percentage of Aboriginal peoples (11.7%) for any major Canadian city, and the highest total number of Aboriginals (76,055) for any single non-reserve municipality.The Aboriginal population grew by 22% between 2001 and 2006, compared to an increase of 3% for the city as a whole; this population tends to be younger and less wealthy than non-Aboriginal residents. Winnipeg also has the highest Métis population in both percentage (6.3%) and numbers (41,005); the growth rate for this population between 2001 and 2006 was 30%. The city has the greatest percentage of Filipino residents (8.7%) of any major Canadian city, although Toronto has more Filipinos by total population. In 2006, Winnipeg ranked seventh of the Canadian cities for percentage of residents of a visible minority. The population is 67.5% white as of 2011 (down from 73.5% in 2006), while non-aboriginal visible minorities represent 21.4% as of 2011 (up from 16.3% in 2006). The city receives over 10,000 net international immigrants per year.

9. The new civic government, which will be elected this October, will be saddled with debt, audits of severe overspending that borders on corruption, and debates over infrastructure and rapid transit just to suggest a few challenges. Questionable planning and urban sprawl has stressed budgets and taxes out of control. 

10. Economic activity is on the rise. NOT.

The city is saddled with limited opportunities for young adults. Many families have been fragmented since after graduating from college or university the kids leave Winnipeg for greener pastures. Both of my daughters have left Winnipeg with no plans of returning. My sister has 2 sons who have also left Winnipeg. This results in slow growth of young educated population and a sliding tax base.

11. Winnipeg has a low poverty level.  NOT.

The number of families and singles living below the poverty level in Winnipeg is stunting it’s growth and in  my opinion the result of limited opportunity.  The busiest days for the economic activity in Winnipeg are limited and predictable. Most families living in poverty have 2 to 5 children.  On or around the 20th of every month Winnipeg comes alive when the Child Tax credit arrives. Shopping for groceries, spending on social activities and taxis are taxed to the limit. Three days later, the money is gone.  At the end of the month the 60,000 or so on Social Service support to get paid. Seniors get their pensions and it’s payday in Winnipeg. For 5 days economic activity spikes, bars and stores are full, taxis are in short supply, and then the money runs out.  Agencies like food banks, and shelters carry the impoverished until the cycle repeats itself. Without the government support Winnipeg would look like Detroit.

12. Winnipeg has a lot of taxi’s.  NOT. 

Compared to other cities Winnipeg has almost half the number of taxis it should. Statistics show a range of 1 taxi for every 600 to 1200 of population in all cities. Winnipeg has 1 taxi for 1750 in population. Considering the demand, we are way out of line.  It’s a little known fact but in 1945 Winnipeg had 300 taxis. I’m 1947 we added 100 cabs to employ war veterans. That brings us up to 400 in 1947. In 2014, Winnipeg has only 410 taxis and 41 accessible taxis. So in 67 years of growth we have only added 51 taxis to the Winnipeg fleet of 451 taxis. 

No coverage for urban sprawl. Hours of waiting at certain times of the day. I could go on but what’s the point? Better take your car to the Airport.  You might have to drink and drive.  Blame the province! Manitoba is the only province to control taxis in a city. In other cities the civic government controls the cabs through a civic taxi commission. It’s time to look at taxis as civic Infrastructure.

13. Civic planning is right on.  NOT

Did it make sense to build a football stadium at the south end of the city?  Did it make sense to move the Red River Exhibition to the West Perimeter?  Does the University of Winnipeg expanding on prime downtown land make for good planning? Why are we wasting so much money on rapid transit? Is Winnipeg really big enough to afford the billions it costs? How come we aren’t building up the downtown to increase density to support downtown as a vibrant community? These are my thoughts and I think you get the message. Civic planning is a FAIL.

14. Finally, as good as the media in Winnipeg reacts to stories that sell, I would like to see a little more effort on focus to create a Winnipeg that works.






14 Common Misconceptions About Winnipeg Part 1

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.’

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Up, Up and Away

Finally, after a vacation that took me on a 10 day ride throughout the paradise province of Canada,  British Columbia. I am in awe, from the mountains and valley’s of Pemberton and Whistler,  to Vancouver and the hustle of Granville Island market. From the suburb of Coquitlam to the quiet coastal playground of the wealthy at Deep Cove, suddenly I’m at the amazing Vancouver airport, climbing aboard the Westjet, for the flight back home to Winnipeg.

Now I’m in a position that I’ve never been in. After 17 years of living in hotels or communal rooming houses, I’m coming home without a home.

I’m not homeless. During my holiday I had no fixed address. I moved out of my hotel room of 8.5 years which was across from a former employer and began my vacation.  During that time, I took possession of an 8th floor apartment in a quiet Winnipeg suburb. 

When I arrived back in Winnipeg, I had no keys, no furniture and no food. That was on September 3rd. Since I lived in communal homes of sorts since 1996, I had to start with nothing.  I owned the clothes on my back plus and a few possessions that I had stored in my father’s garage.

I had previously purchased all my new furniture and made arrangements to get set up and delivery for September 5th. For the first time in 40 years I was back at my childhood home with my parents who are in their 80’s, and still fully active seniors.  I spent 2 nights with them just a few blocks from my new digs until my delivery.

On the morning of September 5th,  I was dropped by the apartment block that contained the 8th floor studio suite that was to be home. The cable guy hooked me up with the  HD and Wifi.  The furniture delivery soon followed. 

Once again my life had changed for the better. Being disabled with limited mobility, I am unable to crawl on the floor to assemble the furniture kits. My 85 year old father was a godsend.  He worked with me for a few hours and without him I would still be trying to assemble that TV Stand.  Amazing man, amazing father.  We got it done.

Since I’m not driving, my father volunteered to take me to shop for all the accessories and groceries needed to call my new place a home.

It’s done. I have all the extras  and I just have one more shopping trip to tie up the loose ends. The cost was almost $4000.  Seems like a lot of loot but being disabled and on a pension at 58 years old, I have a benefit of subsidized housing that keeps my 8th floor rent at only $302 per month.  I should be able to recover my investment in 6 months just in rent savings alone.

It’s exciting to finally after all these year’s close another chapter of Leonard vs Life, and start a new chapter.  Up, Up, and Away from the transient society that I was part of since 1996.

Finally, I’m home.

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The Moving Vacation


This week I’m stumped. I have so much on my mind that I’m having a writers block. Being in the process of moving, with the pleasant interruption of a 10 day vacation in the middle of the move, has caused me minimal stress.

Can you imagine packing up before August 25th because you are moving on September 1st but that you’ll be on a vacation until the 4th of September? Now that the plot is revealed, add a twist of 17 years of living in furnished rentals, and now we need to purchase a whole studio suite of furniture, for delivery when returning from vacation.

AND to add to that, the need for short term storage which is enough on one’s mind to interrupt your thought process on blogging.

Oh, there is MORE:  My arrival back home is at Midnight. I have no furniture, so it’s a sleep on the floor until delivery the next day.

I live in Winnipeg and I’ll be on vacation in Vancouver and the Whistler/Pemberton area with family. British Columbia is the paradise of Canada and I’m looking forward to the 10 days there with family.

Well, that’s this week’s episode and I’m sticking to it. 



Moving on Up!

In 2001 I stopped working as a Manager at Convergys, which was a contact center with 2000 employees in Winnipeg. After the tragedy on 9/11 in New York I decided to resign and started driving a taxi for a friend.

The owner of the company needed a Dispatcher so he suggested that I drive weekends and dispatch for him during the week. Done. After a couple years my friend left the taxi business to drive a truck (and moved to Quebec).

What happened next was that I was hired full time as the night Manager/Dispatcher. We started building this taxi company and by 2005 we nearly doubled the size of the fleet.

It was suggested that I move across the street from the taxi company into the Hotel. I was now on call from 5pm to 7am and had to be nearby in case of emergency.

So, on my 50th birthday I moved into this hotel, subsidized by the company. I started a new life experience. Now, living in a hotel has its pros and cons. This place had a wild bar, restaurant with good food and only 5 monthly tenants, mostly hotel staff.

Since I worked nights, I aways missed the drinking and drug parties. I also missed the fights and arguments that happened at bar closing time. I slept the day away, and for a single man, the space was adequate and fully equipped.

Over the last 8.5 years the hotel has been sold three times. Now on it’s 4th owner, more changes are coming. The bar is being converted to a Gentleman’s Club. The bar will feature non-stop strippers and a few rooms have been set aside to be rented by the hour

Although I can remain here, the cost has increased. I’m on a disability pension and no longer work. Why live in what will surely become a strip joint/brothel?

I got lucky. A friend of mine called me and suggested I apply at his apartment block because an opening was coming on September 1. That block is exactly in the suburb I grew up in and is located next door to everything. This 55 plus block is subsidized and because of my age and disability, I qualify. I raced to the block tò check out the suite at the top and went to fill the application. Thanks to connections to the blocks owners I was able to secure approval for September 1 possession!

My rent will drop to less than half of what it costs me in this hotel. Finally after 9 years of core city living. I’m moving on up to the 8th floor!



Out of the Bush

When you drive a taxi, every fare can turn into an adventure. This is a true story of a taxi fare with a sense of adventure.

Back in October of 1994 I was driving a night shift. At about 7pm, I was sent into the Winnipeg Airport to pick up a customer. This was a flight from northern Manitoba. At the terminal, I found my fare….. ayoung couple of aboriginal decent.

The man was dressed in jeans and a USA Secret Service baseball hat. His wife was also decked out in denim. They had flown in from Gods Lake which is a Cree Indian reserve.

They were extremely friendly and happy to be out of the bush. They were fishing and hunting guides and the season was ending for them. They had just guided a group of American fishing enthusiasts.


He immediately handed me $100. I was asked if I could be their driver for the night. I said, “Sure”. He then handed me another $100. Okay, this was wonderful but u needed to know why he was so generous.

He said that the Secret Service hat was a gift from his last group. George H Bush. Yep, that one. The older Bush that was President of the USA until January 1994. The hat was from one of his security detail. Apparently, he paid big money for the best guide and although he never revealed his fee, my fare had a few thousand dollars in his pocket.

The first stop was for supper at the Ming Court. He asked me to join him and his wife. Okay, I like Chinese food. For that he called me a nice guy and offered me another $100. So, we went and dined and he told me stories about George W Bush. After dinner he thanked me for joining them and offered me another $100.

The next stop was to be the Bar at the St. Regis Hotel. The man had been drinking quite a bit during dinner and he fell down the 4 stairs from the restaurant to the lobby. I had to pick him up because he had messed up his foot. I put him Into the car and suggested a hospital visit to check hit foot. He was in pain, but still in a good mood. He thanked me for my assistance and hands me another $100.

I took them to the hospital emergency and pushed him into the room to check in. They told us that it would be a few hours wait for treatment. I asked my customers if I should wait and they said it could be a while so I could leave.

I thanked them for their generosity and his wife told me that they left some money in the back seat. He said that would be my TIP. His wife agreed.

So, back in the taxi I looked into the back seat and sure enough a small wad of $100’s. Only $600 for the tip. It was only 11pm and I had just earned $1100 for about 4 hours work, courtesy of President George H Bush Sr.