Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head. He believes journalism isn’t a career, but a calling; that rather than being something you do, a journalist is something you are.

He graduated top of his class from Niagara College’s journalism program in 2017. As a student reporter, he picked up an Ontario Community Newspaper Awards nomination for a story on food bank use in southern Ontario. He also served as editor on an investigative project into the state of student mental health on post-secondary campuses, which won a 2017 Emerge Media Award.

Ryan is a former intern at The Hamilton Spectator, where he co-authored a six-week investigative report on drug use in the city’s high schools. Afterwards he landed a summer internship at the Free Press in June 2017. Since then, he’s managed to find a way to stick around the newspaper.

Recent articles of Ryan Thorpe

Profit-driven policing

Ryan Thorpe 24 minute read Preview

Profit-driven policing

Ryan Thorpe 24 minute read Friday, Dec. 9, 2022

Manitoba’s Criminal Property Forfeiture Unit seized an estimated $11.89 million in tainted assets during the 2021-22 fiscal season — an increase of 346 per cent over the previous year, and far and away the largest annual haul since the unit’s inception.

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Friday, Dec. 9, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Melinda Murray, director of the Manitoba Criminal Property Forfeiture Unit, says up to 70 per cent the statement of claims filed by the unit in the Court of King’s Bench are resolved through default judgment, meaning the defendant in question does not contest the seizure.

Advocate calls alleged serial killings a hate crime

Ryan Thorpe 3 minute read Preview

Advocate calls alleged serial killings a hate crime

Ryan Thorpe 3 minute read Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022

The executive director of the oldest and largest Indigenous women’s agency in the country says the recent case of an alleged serial killer in Winnipeg reveals the racism and misogyny that lurk throughout Canadian society.

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Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022

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Jeremy Anthony Michael Skibicki, 35, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Morgan Harris, 39, Rebecca Contois, 24, Marcedes Myran, 26, and an unidentified woman believed to be in her mid-20s.

The Leaf at Assiniboine Park welcomes first visitors

Ryan Thorpe 4 minute read Preview

The Leaf at Assiniboine Park welcomes first visitors

Ryan Thorpe 4 minute read Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022

The parking lot was full and Winnipeggers came out in droves Saturday morning for the public opening of The Leaf, the new indoor horticultural attraction at Assiniboine Park.

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Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022

The main spire of the Leaf features a six story waterfall that feeds into a pond in the tropical biome. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Gillingham celebrates, Murray concedes, Klein and Loney round out top four

Carol Sanders, Joyanne Pursaga, Ryan Thorpe and Maggie Macintosh 9 minute read Preview

Gillingham celebrates, Murray concedes, Klein and Loney round out top four

Carol Sanders, Joyanne Pursaga, Ryan Thorpe and Maggie Macintosh 9 minute read Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022

Scott Gillingham celebrates, Glen Murray concedes, Kevin Klein and Shaun Loney round out top four in mayor's race.

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Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

'I’m going to reflect a lot on this experience. Politics has changed… You are much more vulnerable as a public person (now),' Glen Murray said.

Mayoral candidates debate priorities on Indigenous issues

Ryan Thorpe 4 minute read Preview

Mayoral candidates debate priorities on Indigenous issues

Ryan Thorpe 4 minute read Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022

Ten candidates vying to become the city’s next mayor debated Indigenous issues Saturday, making their final push for support with just three days left before Winnipeggers head to the polls.

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Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022

Daniel Crump / WinnipegFree Press

Ten of Winnipeg's mayoral candidates take part in a forum hosted by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) at the Wyndham Garden Winnipeg Airport, 460 Madison St., which is part of Long Plain First Nation’s urban reserve. October 22, 2022.

Second encampment removed from legislative grounds

Ryan Thorpe 2 minute read Preview

Second encampment removed from legislative grounds

Ryan Thorpe 2 minute read Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022

An encampment on the east grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building, established in June 2021 following the discovery of unmarked graves at the former sites of Canadian residential schools, was dismantled by law enforcement officials Saturday morning.

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Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Supporters of the Sacred Fire camp had been presented with eviction notices, and given one week to vacate, on Aug. 17.

City’s record of urban planning an exercise in after-the-fact rationalization

Ryan Thorpe 19 minute read Preview

City’s record of urban planning an exercise in after-the-fact rationalization

Ryan Thorpe 19 minute read Friday, Oct. 21, 2022

Earl Levin had big plans for downtown Winnipeg.

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Friday, Oct. 21, 2022

An aerial view of some of the many downtown surface parking lots. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)

Removal of tattoos helping facilitate change for ex-gang members

Ryan Thorpe 20 minute read Preview

Removal of tattoos helping facilitate change for ex-gang members

Ryan Thorpe 20 minute read Friday, Oct. 14, 2022

Just like a fresh coat of paint can cover up the gang graffiti seen throughout the streets and alleys of inner-city Winnipeg, so too can flesh marked with gang insignia be made clean again.

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Friday, Oct. 14, 2022

Della Steinke offers free gang-tattoo removal to ex-gang members. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

‘Troubling patterns’: traffic infrastructure contracts keep city transportation division in spotlight

Ryan Thorpe 6 minute read Preview

‘Troubling patterns’: traffic infrastructure contracts keep city transportation division in spotlight

Ryan Thorpe 6 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2022

Questions are being raised on how the City of Winnipeg handles tenders for traffic infrastructure, following a Free Press analysis of underground wiring contracts dating back more than a decade.

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Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Questions are being raised on how the City of Winnipeg handles tenders for traffic infrastructure, following a Free Press analysis of underground wiring contracts dating back more than a decade.

Restorative justice proponents point to alternative way

Ryan Thorpe 25 minute read Preview

Restorative justice proponents point to alternative way

Ryan Thorpe 25 minute read Friday, Sep. 9, 2022

The volunteers stand around the old storefront at 605 Main St. holding cardboard boxes filled with supplies — fresh fruit, bottles of water and jugs of juice, plastic containers into which used needles can be safely disposed — when there’s a knock at the door.

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Friday, Sep. 9, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Delivering food, water and clothing is the byproduct — delivering joy, empathy and hope is the true gift.

City auditor says changes to traffic infrastructure lack paper trail

Ryan Thorpe 5 minute read Preview

City auditor says changes to traffic infrastructure lack paper trail

Ryan Thorpe 5 minute read Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022

A report into allegations of financial mismanagement in the City of Winnipeg’s transportation division found that staff lacked written documentation to justify mass changes to traffic infrastructure in Winnipeg.

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Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The investigation into the traffic signals branch was triggered by a Free Press series – Red Light, Green Light, No Oversight – in March that was based on the work of independent researcher Christian Sweryda.

High processing fees for freedom of information requests slammed

Ryan Thorpe 5 minute read Preview

High processing fees for freedom of information requests slammed

Ryan Thorpe 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

Manitoba Justice wants nearly $32,000 to process three freedom of information requests seeking Crown documents related to a secret RCMP investigation into the scandal-plagued administration of Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz.

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Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

'This is an example of a government actively trying to hide information from the public,' said NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Mission accomplished

Ryan Thorpe 6 minute read Preview

Mission accomplished

Ryan Thorpe 6 minute read Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022

William “Bill” Hutton led a life dedicated to others.

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Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022

Leaked documents reveal police HQ project wasn't financially sound when construction began

Ryan Thorpe 15 minute read Preview

Leaked documents reveal police HQ project wasn't financially sound when construction began

Ryan Thorpe 15 minute read Friday, Jul. 8, 2022

The temperature hovered just below freezing on Jan. 15, 2010, when 11 people arrived at city hall for a Saturday meeting in the boardroom of then-chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl to discuss the downtown Winnipeg Police Service headquarters construction project.

The meeting was consequential for the controversial job, which sparked multiple audits, allegations of kickbacks and corruption, calls for a public inquiry and a five-year RCMP investigation that closed without criminal charges.

In the years since police moved into the new downtown HQ on Smith Street in 2014, the high-profile controversy has largely focused on Caspian Construction — the main building firm — and its various sub-contractors, who have never commented publicly.

The City of Winnipeg alleges it was defrauded by the project’s construction contractors and design team through a scheme of inflated and fabricated invoices — allegations that remain before Manitoba’s civil court.

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Friday, Jul. 8, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Police (WPS) headquarters in Winnipeg at the corner of St Mary and Smith.

Eight years later, key “non-existent” police HQ meeting minutes magically appear

Ryan Thorpe 5 minute read Preview

Eight years later, key “non-existent” police HQ meeting minutes magically appear

Ryan Thorpe 5 minute read Thursday, Jul. 7, 2022

It took significantly longer than a minute for key meeting minutes relating to the controversial Winnipeg Police Headquarters construction project to emerge.

More than 4.2 million of them, in fact.

The Free Press has obtained copies of meeting records from the project’s oversight committee eight years after city staff told both internal and external auditors that the documents didn’t exist.

City council ordered two external audits in 2013 after learning the expected price tag to transform the downtown Canada Post warehouse into a new home for the city’s police department had skyrocketed.

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Thursday, Jul. 7, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
The Winnipeg Police Service headquarters, where an individual doused himself in flammable liquid and attempted to light himself on fire, in Winnipeg on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. For —- story. Winnipeg Free Press 2022.

Festivals fill the streets

Ryan Thorpe 4 minute read Preview

Festivals fill the streets

Ryan Thorpe 4 minute read Saturday, Jun. 25, 2022

Street festivals made a triumphant return to Winnipeg this weekend as communities came together once more to move toward a post-pandemic city.

The annual Art City parade had a sizeable turnout and brought smiles to the faces of children and adults alike, with participants dressed in costumes and holding placards aloft while manoeuvring floats down the streets of West Broadway.

Josh Ruth, Art City’s managing director, said the annual parade — which has been on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic — is the organization’s flagship event.

“The parade goes back to almost the beginning of Art City. The folks involved at the time thought, ‘We have all this great art, great collaboration, great community that exists inside our doors, why not take it out into the street?’” Ruth said.

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Saturday, Jun. 25, 2022

Participants of the Art City Parade pull a giant fruit salad bowl at the start of the parade on Saturday. (Ethan Cairns / Winnipeg Free Press)

Email trail intertwines city, real estate company on police HQ project

Ryan Thorpe 7 minute read Preview

Email trail intertwines city, real estate company on police HQ project

Ryan Thorpe 7 minute read Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

A trail of emails obtained by the Free Press provides fresh insight into the close and collaborative relationship between local development firm Shindico and Winnipeg city hall during the administration of former mayor Sam Katz.

The emails reveal backchannel communication regarding several real estate projects, including a case where a specific city councillor was identified as an obstacle.

They show Phil Sheegl, a senior member of the public service and a close ally of Katz, referring to himself and Shindico as a joint entity.

They detail the existence of a meeting for three city employees at the home of Sandy Shindleman, co-owner of Shindico, to discuss buying the downtown Canada Post building that was later renovated into Winnipeg Police Service headquarters.

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Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Winnipeg Police Service headquarters

Design engineer repeatedly told city officials police behind HQ’s rising costs, delays

Ryan Thorpe 8 minute read Preview

Design engineer repeatedly told city officials police behind HQ’s rising costs, delays

Ryan Thorpe 8 minute read Friday, Jun. 10, 2022

A key player in the construction of Winnipeg’s downtown police headquarters repeatedly raised concerns with senior city administration about design changes pushed by the police service causing significant cost overruns and schedule delays.

Internal project correspondence newly obtained by the Free Press reveals the degree of frustration that was mounting for Peter Chang and the design firm Adjeleian Allen Rubeli Ltd., on the construction project.

On at least two occasions, Chang threatened to walk away from the job, complaining his firm had been mistreated by the city and police service. On another occasion, he accused the city of instructing him to censor a progress report critical of the Winnipeg Police Service.

The correspondence sheds new light on steps taken by city hall to limit the exposure of the police service in the controversial capital project.

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Friday, Jun. 10, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
The Winnipeg Police Services headquarters building in Winnipeg. The defendants are alleged to have fabricated and inflated invoices and pushed change orders to drive up construction costs.

Audits into construction job concerns repeatedly produced recommendations that were sometimes not implemented

Ryan Thorpe 6 minute read Preview

Audits into construction job concerns repeatedly produced recommendations that were sometimes not implemented

Ryan Thorpe 6 minute read Friday, Jun. 3, 2022

Unexpected cost overruns, significant schedule delays, poor project planning, bad management and haphazard record keeping.

Those were the findings of a series of audits into municipal capital projects in the years leading up to the Winnipeg Police Service headquarters controversy.

The WPS HQ project sparked an RCMP criminal investigation, allegations of kickbacks and corruption and ongoing civil litigation launched by the City of Winnipeg.

But in order to understand what went wrong — and why — on the controversial job, it must be placed into proper context, which requires a look back at the over-budget capital projects that preceded it.

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Friday, Jun. 3, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
When the external audit into the WPS HQ construction project was finalized in 2014, the report noted the 1992 draft manual on capital project administration was still in place.

Document shows police not innocent in HQ cost overruns

Ryan Thorpe 7 minute read Preview

Document shows police not innocent in HQ cost overruns

Ryan Thorpe 7 minute read Thursday, Jun. 2, 2022

One year before the completion of the controversial downtown police headquarters project, then-Winnipeg Police Service chief Devon Clunis told a news conference at city hall the force wasn’t responsible for runaway construction costs.

Clunis was armed with a newly released audit, which he and city councillors said absolved the WPS of responsibility for the skyrocketing price tag.

“There may have been a perception that the police service was doing things to drive up the cost and this audit says, clearly, this is not the case,” Clunis said on July 15, 2014.

But an unreleased draft of the audit report obtained by the Free Press tells a different story.

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Thursday, Jun. 2, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
The Winnipeg Police Services headquarters building in Winnipeg.

Volunteers build welcoming beds for Ukrainian refugee children

Ryan Thorpe 4 minute read Preview

Volunteers build welcoming beds for Ukrainian refugee children

Ryan Thorpe 4 minute read Friday, May. 27, 2022

Thanks to the work of some dedicated volunteers, 60 newly arrived children from war-torn Ukraine now have a place to rest their heads at night in Winnipeg.

The charitable organization Sleep in Heavenly Peace Winnipeg (SHPW) brought together more than 50 volunteers on Saturday to build twin-size beds for Ukrainian families in need.

“Giving a much-needed item, like a bed, to a child is an easy concept to get behind. But what also appeals to me is that it involves community coming together to make that happen,” said SHPW president Jim Thiessen.

“I believe it takes community to make a better community. We had over 50 volunteers show up. We started at 10:15 a.m. and by noon we’re done.”

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Friday, May. 27, 2022

Anton Khomenko (left) and Alex Tarasov, who recently arrived in Winnipeg from Ukraine, help build beds during the annual Beds For Kids event. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

Missing: active pathways, millions to pay for them

Ryan Thorpe 6 minute read Preview

Missing: active pathways, millions to pay for them

Ryan Thorpe 6 minute read Friday, May. 20, 2022

On paper, it seems like a pair of simple projects that could easily be done to move Winnipeg’s active transportation agenda forward.

But like most things in the city, what is budgeted and what actually happens are two different things.

In the case of the bike-lane and multi-use path projects, the cost of which total $2.2 million and were supposed to be completed last year, no one can clearly explain why the work wasn’t done. Or where the money went.

The University Crescent road reconstruction project was launched with Phase 1 of construction beginning in 2021 and Phase 2 scheduled for this year.

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Friday, May. 20, 2022

DANIEL CRUMP / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The underpass on Keewatin Street in Winnipeg. There was $1.3 million earmarked for a multi-use path at this location, at the underpass, but when the street was rebuilt, no active transportation infrastructure was added.

City wants to add 12 defendants now, maybe more later, to police HQ lawsuit

Ryan Thorpe 4 minute read Preview

City wants to add 12 defendants now, maybe more later, to police HQ lawsuit

Ryan Thorpe 4 minute read Wednesday, May. 18, 2022

The City of Winnipeg wants to sue more people and companies connected to the Winnipeg Police Service headquarters construction project, and Mayor Brian Bowman says there could be more to come after that.

In a May 4 notice of motion, the city asked Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal for leave in order to amend its statement of claim in the lawsuit to add 12 additional parties.

A hearing in the case, which the city launched in January 2020 against Caspian Construction and dozens of other defendants connected to the over-budget capital project, is scheduled for May 31.

Joyal has recused himself as trial judge in the case, citing a “spectre” of bias that could hang over his involvement after he ruled in March that Phil Sheegl, the city’s top bureaucrat from May 2011 to October 2013, accepted a bribe in connection with the project.

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Wednesday, May. 18, 2022

JOE BRYKSA / FREE PRESS FILES
The City of Winnipeg wants to sue more people and companies connected to the Winnipeg Police Service headquarters construction project

Judge steps away from civil trial over police HQ project

Ryan Thorpe 5 minute read Preview

Judge steps away from civil trial over police HQ project

Ryan Thorpe 5 minute read Tuesday, May. 17, 2022

Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal has decided not to hear an upcoming civil trial arising from the controversial Winnipeg Police Service headquarters construction project, citing the “spectre” of bias.

The lawsuit was launched by the City of Winnipeg in January 2020, roughly one month after Manitoba RCMP closed Project Dalton — the multi-year, multimillion-dollar fraud investigation into the over-budget project — without criminal charges.

The defendants named in the suit are former City of Winnipeg chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl, various contractors and consultants connected to the job and Caspian Construction, the firm hired to build the WPS HQ.

In a letter dated May 10th obtained by the Free Press, Joyal notified the lawyers on the case that he planned to recuse himself.

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Tuesday, May. 17, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Chief Justice Glenn Joyal has decided not to hear an upcoming civil trial arising from the controversial Winnipeg Police Service headquarters construction project, citing the “spectre” of bias.