Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Even losers must celebrate Upper Fort Garry

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HOW TO BE POOR LOSERS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE "RICH" ...It's been the shivering spring of our discontent. But the sun was shining and the temperature was summer-like at noon Monday when Premier Gary Doer stood in front of the Upper Fort Garry gate to make a surprise announcement that brought a warmth all its own.

The premier and millionaire businessman Hartley Richardson had met in Calgary with Petro-Canada president Ron Brenneman.

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And, Brenneman had agreed to sell the Petro-Canada station at the corner of Broadway and Main Street, which will remove an eyesore and open up the Main Street view of the gate and the rest of the proposed Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park.

Coincidentally, the Friends of Upper Fort Garry were announcing the city had officially turned over ownership of the land that represents the post-colonial cradle of Manitoba.

Finally, the premier had concluded his bid to create a green belt along Main Street, from the Red River's edge all the way to Broadway.

And, the Friends of Upper Fort Garry -- a collection of the province's business and political elite who carried on a fundraising campaign to save the province's symbolic birthplace from being overshadowed by an apartment development -- had finally secured all the park property they'd dreamed of acquiring for the citizens of Manitoba.

It should have been a time to celebrate.

And it was.

Until the premier was casually asked whether there are plans to tear down the only building still standing on the historic city block.

The century-old Manitoba Club, symbolic home of the city's business and political elite.

The premier laughed.

As he should have.

After all, many of the business and political elite who spearheaded the campaign to save the historic property for the citizens of Manitoba are also members of the Manitoba Club.

Without their passion and persistence we wouldn't be planning a downtown provincial park on the land where the Hudson's Bay Co. once ruled most of northwestern North America and where the "Father of Manitoba," Louis Riel, declared a provisional government that led to the creation of Manitoba.

More importantly, though, the stately Manitoba Club is also part of our history.

It's not a corner gas station.

But there are elements in this city that will always be sniping at the rich and/or the successful.

Envying, instead of celebrating success, is an ugly attitude that seems to define us as a city.

But the reclamation of the Upper Fort Garry site isn't simply a success story for the Friends.

It's a success story for all of us.

Even those who don't and didn't support it.

Even for the losers of the Battle of Upper Fort Garry.

"ö "ö "ö

MORE HAPPY NEWS TO REPORT... Homeless hero Faron Hall is homeless no more as he has now moved into his new digs in a Manitoba Housing apartment in St. Boniface.

"ö "ö "ö

CIRCLE THE CALENDER... The Free Press is publishing a new book. Bite-Sized Doug is a collection of critter-themed columns by Free Press funnyman Doug Speirs. You know stories about pigs that glow in the dark, dogs that break his arm, and flatulent bovine.

Bite-Sized Doug launches June 16 at 8 p.m. at McNally Robinson Grant Park. And you're all welcome.

"ö "ö "ö

THE LAST LAUGH... I was speaking with lawyer Hymie Weinstein recently, telling him how proud I am of his son. Josh Weinstein is working -- at no cost -- to overturn the city's panhandling bylaw.

Hymie seemed pretty proud of his son, too, but for another reason. Josh has just become a partner in his father's firm.

But, Hymie couldn't resist sharing something else father and son have in common: size 16 feet.

That, Hymie suggested, is what you call really following in your father's footsteps.

 

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 2, 2009 B1

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