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Hey buddy, can you spare a loonie...

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Osborne Village has been chosen the "best neighbourhood in Canada" (2012) and the "best place to live in Winnipeg" (2008) but the best part of living in the Village is that such honours and titles only seem to matter to politicians and perhaps some business boosters.  
Us folks who live and work here don’t spend much time thinking about or bragging on matters like that.  Which is one of the best things about living in Osborne Village.
We have some of the drawbacks any other neighbourhood faces — a smattering of crime, traffic tie-ups at certain times and places but when you consider the amenities we have here, the pendulum sings overwhelmingly towards the positive. OV is a great place to go for a walk, there are quiet neighbourhoods and bustling shopping
districts, plenty of places to wine and dine and most of all, an eclectic mix of people.
In this area with the highest population density in Winnipeg you can meet students, working class folk, young (and old) urban professionals, senior citizens, hippies, straights, gays — it’s just not like the suburbs where everybody has 2.3 children and 1.8 cars.
So what is there not to like about the Village? Well, if anything, the Village is certainly home to a high density of panhandlers.
We don’t have the statistics, but I would guess Osborne Village and downtown run neck and neck in numbers of street beggars, who probably run back and forth between the two anyway based on reports on which area seems to be in a more giving mood at any particular time.
But here’s where the Village takes the lead, and I don’t like it. Panhandlers can cost you five loonies in a block if you’re in a giving mood, and you’ve got to slip a busker a buck as you enter the liquor store — but the businesses in our area won’t stop panhandling, too.  
"Would you like to make a donation to (insert cause)?" the cashier will ask as you pay for your favorite libation. It’s the same at our local supermarket. I’ve complained but it doesn’t make a difference. It’s like, "Since you already have your wallet out..."
Whether or not you shoot some change to a street beggar is between you and the beggar (personally, I will not give money to anybody who appears able-bodied but I make exception for folks who are obviously challenged while cursing our social safety net for being inadequate or unaccountable).
But, like most "too eager to please" Canadians, I face a serious crisis when I am asked publicly if I am kind and generous or a cheapskate. I’ve noticed the only businesses doing this are the chain outlets we villagers only tolerate because we need their goods and services and prices.
But I implore you, don’t call me out at the check stand, or I won’t be very pleased when I give you that dollar.
Don Marks is a community correspondent for Osborne Village. You can reach him at marksonthings@gmail.com

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