December 7, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
A few weeks ago, Blog of the Week featured a post from Ekimsharpe, who runs the blog "the cold cold ground." In the post, he shared his thoughts after hearing a CBC interview with Ross McGowan, president and CEO of CentreVenture Development Corp. As such, McGowan is a major force behind the city's Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District, which encompasses the blocks surrounding the MTS Centre.
Here is an excerpt from Ekimsharpe's post, followed by McGowan's response.
"It's not enough that there's a food desert in the inner-city, McGowan is now fighting for a booze desert, too. If you're too poor to afford a beer at Tavern United, then you're not responsible enough to purchase alcohol downtown.
"It seems that CentreVenture's 'social consciousness' now amounts to sweeping poverty under the rug, or to the basement if you like. The CBC interviewer didn't think to ask McGowan where that 'basement' might be, but clearly it won't be anywhere near Portage Avenue and the SHED if McGowan has his way.
"The social rebirth that McGowan seems to have in mind for the downtown has nothing to do with actually addressing the issues of poverty, addiction or racism in our city. Rather, he is openly advocating for the simple removal of undesirable elements from our downtown so that we can all feel safe and happy flooding in and out of the MTS Centre before-and-after Jets games."
Ross McGowan's response:
IN a recent interview with CBC I did make reference to the SHED being compared to the "living room" in one's house where the kids are sent to the basement until they can abide by the rules of the living room. And people ask, "Where exactly is the basement?" There is neither a basement to send or a rug to sweep away the social issues that we are all facing in downtown. Regrettably, my comments were taken out of context.
To clarify the analogy of the living room, there is an expectation that as a society we are responsible for our own behavior and there is a personal code of conduct that defines the boundaries of acceptable behavior that comes with being a member of society. The nature of this behavior contributes to the well-being and safety of others. These rules or code of conduct are applicable to our entire society. The "kids" are always welcome in the living room; however, there are rules, boundaries and expectations of individual behaviour. Actions such as excessive public intoxication and aggressive pan handling that make downtown residents, employees, and visitors uneasy, fearful, or unsafe should not be acceptable.
As the city's downtown development agency, we strive to work collaboratively with our downtown partners and various agencies for a downtown that is inclusive and respectful of the social and economic realities that are an integral part of any progressive city. With a strong track record of taking a broader community development approach, such as our leadership in Central Park, the repurposing of the Bell Hotel and the acquisition of the St. Regis, we are recognizing and responding to the inequities of our downtown. However, we are not a social agency and continue to welcome others to the table who can bring the necessary resources and expertise to help address the broader community concerns in a thoughtful manner which supports the mission of CentreVenture to attract and protect public and private investment in the downtown. Our door is always open and participation in productive dialogue can only make downtown a better place for all. Your feedback is welcomed and appreciated.
CentreVenture blogs at http://www.centreventure.com/news/category/blog/
Ekimsharpe blogs at http://thecoldcoldground.blogspot.ca/
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 31, 2013 A10