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Failure of policy

Re: The sad state of Portage Place (Jan 9). As someone who has lived and worked in downtown Winnipeg since moving here in 1989, I can readily attest to the decline in Portage Place. My explanation is that many of the supposedly positive changes downtown are responsible, starting with the MTS Centre.

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Virtually every hour that Portage Place stores are open, the MTS Centre is simply an expensive and long hallway that breaks up the downtown. It has nothing that brings people regularly into the downtown during daytime hours, especially not for anything other than entertainment events and perhaps some associated drinking and eating.

This criticism has nothing to do with hockey but rather with the fact an arena is simply a big, empty hole in the downtown much of the time, as is a convention centre.

And consider the irrational way in which the University of Winnipeg has expanded to the west rather than connecting itself (and its 10,000 or so students and employees) to Portage Place and the downtown proper. Or the fact that the Red River College campus was located so far from Portage Place rather than being closely connected to it.

Development should have focused on Portage Place and then spread outward in a synergistic fashion rather than being scattered across an overly large and disconnected area.




The demise of Portage Place is due to the current policies at city hall. They are allowing too much urban sprawl. There is also the high cost of parking downtown.

There are so many seniors living downtown that we are going to need some stores coming into Portage Place (i.e. grocery and clothing). Most of us who live downtown do so for the walkway and the convenience of stores without getting out in the winter elements.




There is a constant demand for student housing at the nearby University of Winnipeg. The city should be focusing on creating a livable, urban and green downtown, rather than one that simply fills the coffers of businesspeople and entrepreneurs.



Paramedic time is money

I read with interest the Jan. 10 story Property taxes going up again, regarding the "ballooning" costs of emergency services. As chance would have it, I had an experience the day before with paramedic services. Early that morning my mother was taken by ambulance to Seven Oaks Hospital, having had trouble breathing.

I arrived at the emergency department at 8:30 a.m. to find my mother attended by two paramedics and a trainee in the area behind the triage desk adjacent to the ambulance bay. I have nothing but praise for these men, who were competent and compassionate. But they were obliged to stay with my mother until she was attended by a physician -- in this case more than four hours.

During the morning at least five other patients arrived by ambulance and were lined up in the hospital corridor with paramedics in attendance. I do not profess to know a solution to this problem but obviously there has to be a better was to utilize these services in a more efficient way.




I live on South Drive in Fort Garry and was shocked to see the street cleaned curb to curb, including all the driveway approaches, on Jan. 10. Like everyone else, I love having a street perfectly cleaned. But what is the thought behind cleaning a street the day before an expected blizzard with an anticipated 20 to 25 centimetres of snow?

I know that this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to waste with our tax dollars. I can only imagine what type of a tax reduction we could have if only someone could put some thought into the process.




Wouldn't it be nice if city hall would at least consider dedicating 0.5 per cent of property taxes to improving sidewalks, especially for those of us who use wheelchairs and for seniors who use walkers and who are unsteady on their feet?

The suggestion that each city councillor is to have a $40,000 a year increase in their ward allowance for communications -- which would raise it to $114,000 from $74,000 -- is absurd, especially when they are looking at cutting $350,000 from non-profit organizations such as Winnipeg Harvest.

Councillors have more than enough money for their communication needs, while governments continue to cut back on funding for non-profits.



Expecting equality

Diana Goods' Jan. 10 letter normalizing feminism's patriarchy theory only scratches the surface of the problem of the current system.

Warren Farrell writes in his book The Myth of Male Power: "If power means having control over one's own life, then perhaps there is no better ranking of the impact of sex roles and racism on power over our own lives than life expectancy."

If she is in favour of equality, Goods should agree that when only an equal number of women as men are homeless, die on the job, in war or by suicide, have the same life expectancy, are falsely accused of rape, are awarded child custody in divorce cases and are victims of violence, should we dare to suppose we have achieved equality.



Unemployed have reasons

Re: Groups want raise in allowance (Jan. 5). The Manitoba government's response to the campaign to raise housing-allowance rates for people on employment income assistance needs to be challenged. Their stock response is that education and jobs are the best way out of poverty.

No one can or should argue with this, but getting an education and a job is not an option for the 60 per cent of EIA recipients who are unemployable for several legitimate reasons having to do with age, disability, emotional or mental health and family restrictions. It is for those not able to work but also for those who want to work but are trapped in homelessness or unstable housing situations that the rates need to be raised.

Our government seems to be of the opinion that increasing housing allowances will deter people from finding work. I submit that providing the means to get off the food-bank and couch-surfing circuit is the best way to encourage training and job stability. It also insures that those who have no choice about their source of income can live with a bit more decency.



Wild recipe tips

Re: Don't forget seasoning (Letters, Jan. 9). Since Debbie Wall calls into doubt that trappers like Ron Spence eat what they catch and asks for squirrel and coyote recipes as proof, I recommend she (or anyone) try either coyote soup or squirrel pot pie.

Recipes for both can be found in The American Family Cookbook by Lily Wallace and both are delicious.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 14, 2013 A11

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