Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winnipeg still needs work to be major-league

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This past Sunday, with our summer vacation coming to a close, my family and I were trying to find something different to do in our fair city.

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We decided to consult the Internet and came across a list of the top 10 must-see things in Winnipeg. One of the attractions that caught our eye was our city's French Quarter. Having never really visited this area as tourists, we decided to give it a try.

We parked our vehicle at the St. Boniface Basilica and walked over to Provencher Boulevard. Not only was it deserted, but the cafés and shops were closed. A top-10 attraction not open for business?

Having just returned from four days in downtown Minneapolis, we were in a state of disbelief. Minneapolis is definitely a city open for business.

We took in a couple of Twins-Red Sox games at Target Field. What a magnificent facility. We rode the Bombardier-equipped Hiawatha light-rail line from the downtown area to the Mall of America. The Metro Transit utilizes New Flyer buses with hydrogen-fuel-cell and hybrid-electric technology as well as 20-metre articulated buses.

Yes, these are the same "bendy" buses that enjoyed a trial run on Winnipeg's winter streets and were "thrown under the bus," so to speak, because they had difficulty navigating our winter road conditions. Last time I checked, Minneapolis still had snow.

Downtown Minneapolis boasts the Nicollet Mall, which is loaded with cafés and restaurants with outdoor patios, much like our own Corydon Avenue. Like Winnipeg, the Minneapolis area shares its love for summertime construction. The biggest difference, however, is that their road construction appears to be occurring in order to make traffic flow more efficiently, not to prevent it from actually falling through the roadway.

Yes, I know greater Minneapolis and St. Paul have a population of 3.5 million people compared to 700,000 in Winnipeg. Don't get me wrong; I love my city. I enjoy living here and decided to raise my family here. I just do not see Winnipeg's vision for the future.

We're no closer to being major-league than we were this past May before the return of the Jets was announced. Winnipeg needs to start thinking outside of the box, and those at city hall and the legislature need to find a crew of forward-thinkers who can envision a Winnipeg of not only five, but 10, 15 and even 25 years into the future.

Winnipeg actually needs to take gas taxes that are collected and invest not only in repairing our deplorable roadways, but building expressways with overpasses, underpasses and interchanges, not four-way controlled intersections.

We need to link the downtown with the four points of the city via light rail, not a glorified bus lane. We need to get Winnipeg moving. We need to show the world that Winnipeg is definitely open for business.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2011 A13

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