Ideas for revitalizing other areas of downtown Winnipeg continue to fly back and forth; some of the latest proposals include opening up Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic and paying yuppies $10,000 to buy a condo (translation for the newly adult set: "yuppies" is a ’90s term for "young, urban professionals").
Meanwhile, Osborne Village continues to thrive as a most pleasant place to live and do business as is.
The key, of course, is people. The sidewalks are packed with pedestrians at all hours of the day and evenings and they seem to get along well with the steady stream of cars carrying commuters to the solitude of the suburbs and shoppers into the Village to visit and drop some coin into a local watering hole or haberdasher.
But soon it will be winter and it doesn’t matter where you live in Winnipeg, ol’ Jack Frost isn’t the greatest of company unless he’s melting by a furnace or fire inside the stately homes and cozy apartments we have in the Village. This has got me thinking about one amenity folks further downtown enjoy that might be a pleasant addition to Osborne Village life. That is, if you don’t mind things hanging over your head or crossing your sight lines on some of our busier streets.
The pedestrian walkways that connect Portage and Main to the Convention Centre and beyond make life a lot easier for all the office workers who have to scurry around downtown keeping appointments with each other, and they even get some use during the evenings I’m told.
I mean, anything that prevents you from venturing out into a climate in which your breath freezes in a matter of seconds, not minutes, is a good thing, right?
I admit that it is a bit difficult to imagine how a maze of concrete connectors would fit in with the quaint nature we care to cultivate in the Village. Could the view down Osborne Street survive the blotch of crisscrossing, contained pedestrian paths from the Bridge to Pembina Highway without losing most of its’ esthetics?
No doubt the sight lines will be diminished but how much can you really see six months of the year when your eyelids are frozen shut?
Winnipeg has some very creative urban planners, architects and designers who might be able to come up with a concept that fits, and who knows? Perhaps some ultra-bright future Guggenheim can develop a model of part-time paths that can be removed during the summer months.
If it works, Village residents will be able to whip out to the supermarket and drug store and convenience mart and sunglass shop in their shirts and slacks in January and we might just keep the summer stream of shoppers and tourists year-round.
And, if it really "connects" with us all, we might want to hook up some of the apartment blocks here so seniors and students can visit like the good neighbours they become when the weather is warm.
Anyway, it’s a thought.
Don Marks is a community correspondent for Osborne
Village. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org