Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Doors Closed

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This gripe doesn't have much to do with the provincial government, except that it owns, funds or manages most of the buildings I am griping about. I have harboured this gripe for a while but a rainy night at the Fringe last week reminded me of it.Why is every door downtown locked? Most buildings - the courthouse, the Legislature, the Manitoba Museum - have multiple entrances, sometimes one on every street. But only one door is open and it's never the one you're at.Let's start at the Law Courts. I can see the old courthouse from my window at the Leg but I can't actually get into it. The court complex probably has six doors, but only one is open and it's the one farthest from me - a big deal when it's minus 40. Yeah, it's only another block. And, yeah, I understand the need for security, but it's still supremely annoying and very discouraging for pedestrians.Next, let's try to get into the confusing complex created by the Manitoba Museum and the Centennial concert hall during the Fringe, when bajillions of people are downtown, for once. On my way from Old Market Square to the Planetarium Fringe venue, I tried no fewer than three doors looking for a shortcut into the venue to get out of the crappy wind and rain. Every door on Main Street was locked, and I had to hoof it around the corner. Then, after the show was over, the tunnel to city hall was dark and locked, so we couldn't use that to bypass the rain and get a little closer to our next show. Way to promote green pedestrian power, city fathers. Couldn't you have left the doors open during the one time people are actually in The Exchange?How about my own building, the Manitoba Legislature. There's four doors (six, counting the basement entrances) and only one is really open to the public. If you are walking over from Osborne Village, you have to walk all the way around to Broadway to get in. At that point, you'd probably give up investigating the internal workings of a parliamentary democracy and just continue on to The Bay to look at shoes.Another related gripe - surface parking lots. There's a lot to hate about surface parking lots, but here's one more thing: The waist-high wooden fences around all of them. Very often, I try to cut across a surface lot - the one just east of the Burt, for example - and I get stuck in the pen. Yeah, I can hike up my skirt and leap over or double back and walk around, but it's just one more small thing that makes the downtown totally pedestrian unfriendly.

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About Mary Agnes Welch

Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first covering city hall and then the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter. Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.

Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school. She has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category.

She was a Southam journalism fellow at the University of Toronto’s Massey College in 2012-13, where she studied indigenous issues, urban planning and political science. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists and has served on several boards.

She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.

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