Letters, Jan. 9
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Parking essential to downtown
Re: Greening the concrete jungle (Jan. 3)
Yet another misguided idea about restoring downtown Winnipeg. Downtown needs people, not empty parks, especially given there is nearby green space along the river and elsewhere. As for all the complaints about parking lots, a far worse blight on the downtown is under-used and deteriorating buildings, many with wonderful but fading architecture.
Parking is essential for the office workers on which downtown still depends, for concert- and theatre-goers, and for most people who might otherwise be encouraged to live downtown, ideally in conversions of our many fine historical buildings.
Please give up the naive expectation that downtown residents will bicycle to their cottages or the beach, to visit friends and family in Sage Creek, to go shopping at Ikea or wherever, to take the kids tobogganing at Assiniboine Park, to go on a road trip, or to perform any of the myriad other tasks that benefit from an automobile.
Rather than undermine vehicle use and consequently downtown development, why not develop parking to address multiple concerns — not only office workers, visitors, and residents, but also green space. A low parking structure with a grass roof can serve as a park, like many other places have done, including Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. That would be perfect opposite Red River College downtown.
Too many suggestions about downtown development put the cart before the horse. Winnipeg mostly needs more people to spend extended time living and working downtown — people who will frequent shops, restaurants and other amenities on a regular basis, walk our streets and pay taxes. Without that, none of the rest will succeed.
Vacant buildings, and housing
The article “Vacant property owners could be on hook for firefighting costs” (Jan. 4) outlines a proposal to recover the cost of firefighting in vacant buildings, which is laudable, providing the building owner has not done all things necessary to secure the building as required by bylaw.
But the fact of the matter is that when it gets cold, people in need of shelter find a way to get into these buildings. Policies that encourage putting derelict housing back into the housing market or, if unsuitable, demolishing them in an expeditious manner are needed.
Indian Wells, Calif.
Audit long overdue
Last February, the Winnipeg Free Press published an article exposing how the City of Winnipeg’s public works department wasted millions of taxpayer dollars (“‘A pattern of incompetence or corruption, or perhaps both’,” Feb. 22, 2022). It delineated many years of doing unnecessary, inefficient and frivolous work. As quoted in the headline, one expert stated it was “a pattern of incompetence or corruption, or perhaps both.”
Coun. Matt Allard rightfully suggested an immediate audit. The city auditor did a very cursory review before retiring and Jim Berezourski, the director of public works, declared; “I stand by my staff and their decisions.” To date there has been no audit and no accountability.
Amazingly, Berezourski is still a director after supporting the huge waste of taxpayers’ money. As recently as Dec. 7, Allard went before the executive policy committee to once again request an audit. It has been almost a year, and no one at city hall, except Allard, seems to care. Is there now a coverup in play?
A welcome recognition
Thank you for the wonderful article on Ken Paupanekis ( “Making a present of the past,” Jan. 3). It’s been decades since we spent time with Ken at Norway House, and while we’ve heard a bit about him over the years, your article was a welcome recognition of his contributions.
Kudos to Shelley Cook on capturing so many defining moments of his life. To both Ken and to Shelley: keep up the good work!
Speed limit just window-dressing
Once again, Winnipeg puts the cart before the horse, or policy before consultation. City spokesperson Julie Horbal Dooley said, “We plan to launch targeted pre-pilot engagement with residents of affected streets at the end of January, and to implement the speed limit changes in early- to mid-March.”
This is not consultation, it is window dressing to give the appearance of consultation. The decision has already been made. MPI statistics clearly show most accidents and fatalities occur at busy intersections on busy streets, not residential streets.
Once again, the city is creating a problem from a non-problem and throwing money at it. It will solve nothing. We have much more serious problems to deal with — homelessness, the terrible crime situation that is getting worse, the sewage Winnipeg pumps into the rivers, crumbling streets — to name a few.
Reject divisive politics
I find myself agreeing more with Tom Brodbeck these days. Despite Canada continuing to be one of the most affluent and democratic countries in the world, our public and political discourse seems to have gotten much more polarized and uncivil in the past few years.
Pierre Poilievre shows how the CPC has chosen to elect a leader who reflects that polarization and the willingness to throw fuel on the fire and fan the flames. He has appealed to some of the far-right and extreme elements of Canada, as well as some of the anger toward government and intolerance in the general public.
One result of this approach may be apathy and lower voter turnout in our elections, which might benefit Conservatives. Another result could be actions such as what happened last February, when a relatively small number of Canadians was able to illegally blockade our borders with the U.S., occupy the capital of our country, and make demands such as the removal of democratically elected governments. Instead of condemning their actions, Polievre met with “protesters” and continues to court their support.
When the time comes, Canadians should vote to reject Poilievre’s cynical and divisive approach to politics.
Compassion for migrants
An erroneous perception persists of migrants, and sometimes even refugees, willfully and contently becoming permanent financial/resource burdens on their host nation.
There is so much unwarranted contempt for these people, yet so many are rightfully despondent, perhaps enough so to work very hard in cashless exchange for basic food and shelter.
And they do want to pull their own weight through employment, even if only to prove their detractors wrong.
Migrant labourers should be treated humanely, including timely access to proper work-related bodily protections, but too often are not.
If they feel they must, critics of such refugees/migrants should get angry at the politicians who supposedly allow in “too many” migrants; but please don’t criticize the desperate people for doing what we’d likely all do if in their dreadful position.
But then, all that no longer matters when the migrants die in their attempt at arriving. Last winter a young family of four from India froze to death trying to access the U.S. via sub-zero southern Manitoba. And I wonder how many have died or will while trying to access Canada.
Really, what happened to our “Christian charity and compassion”? What would Jesus say?
Frank Sterle Jr.
White Rock, B.C.
While heading north on Highway 59 to our cabin the other day, our truck spun out on a patch of ice and we ended up in three feet of snow between the four lanes. Within minutes, three friendly concerned Manitobans had stopped to check on us. We had already called CAA, so we waved them on.
A short time later, a very friendly fellow in a white truck stopped and offered to pull us out. When I told him help was on the way he said, “That could take a while, let’s give it a shot.” We were soon out and on our way.
Many thanks to our hero. It’s comforting to know that we still have so many friendly Manitobans watching out for us.
Doug and Pat Kapilik
Updated on Monday, January 9, 2023 8:35 AM CST: Adds links, adds tile photo