Letters, Jan. 18


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Cost of living space

Re: ‘Safety’s number 1:’ tiny home village for homeless opens in Winnipeg (Jan. 13)

It took three years to build 22 eight-by-20-foot “tiny homes” at a cost of approximately $300,000 per unit. (That’s more than $1,500 per square foot — five times per square foot what a new build in Tuxedo would cost). The article makes them sound quite nice, but the picture makes it look like a bunk in a prison cell.

For comparison, Habitat for Humanity builds a whole three bedroom house for $150,000 — half the cost — and does it in a matter of months, not years. Consider that we admit to a homeless population of 1,800; the math says at this pace and cost it will take more than 200 years and $500 million to house these homeless people. Ridiculous, of course — the reality is that it just won’t happen.

To make matters worse, the article states the estimated ongoing costs per year will be up to $900,000. That’s about $40,000 per unit per year. To put this in perspective, you could live in a hotel for a year for less than that, or rent four apartments.

If this project was intended to house the homeless, it was poorly conceived and executed while over budget and behind schedule. Rather than celebrating, we should be investigating and considering prosecution for incompetence and possible corruption.

Barry Armstrong


By the numbers

After reading an article by Jock Finlayson of the Fraser Institute (“Canadian economy is grinding to a halt,” Jan. 14), I feel I need to voice what many others must feel.

There has been much talk of numbers. Inflation, interest, employment rates and depressed stock prices, etc. … but what all this points to is a broken tax system and, even worse, a completely broken social order.

In Winnipeg, never have I seen so many luxury cars and so much homelessness. Never have I seen both employment numbers and the use of food banks at record levels at the same time. Why are things upside-down?

I will say a few truths. I own a modest amount of stocks, and yes, some of my stocks are down — although they will bounce back — but the dividends those stocks pay have risen by 33 per cent in 2022 compared to 2021. I can’t be alone in this phenomenon. Why am I receiving a 33 per cent increase in dividend income when companies (in general) clearly aren’t paying their staff enough to live on?

Better yet, why are some of these companies making record profits, yet their tax rate is 15 per cent, the same tax rate as workers who are paid minimum wage?

I’m disappointed at the manner in which inflation has been fought in Canada. It has been left to the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates, which hurts almost all Canadians. Why doesn’t the federal government raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations to take some of the supply of money out of circulation instead? I think that would work to a point, but the root cause is speculation.

Why are we allowed to “buy” wheat, rice, oil, gas, etc., with no intentions of taking delivery of the product, but to simply bet it rises in price and we can make money “selling” it to the detriment of farmers, miners and consumers? That is the driving force in worldwide inflation, not demand. Food commodity prices have dropped or remained stable for a while now, yet prices go up.

Perhaps it may be prudent to say that if you have no skin in the game, then essential commodities are off-limits for investing.

We need, as a nation, to stop focusing on numbers on a financial sheet and start understanding real Canadians are behind those numbers — Canadians who are suffering and hungry for no reason other than the greed and poor governance of those in charge.

Jamie Bonner


We lucky few

I am in total agreement with all Kenn Green says (“Faith and suffering,” Letters, Jan. 13).

One thing I tend to cringe at is when someone happens to pass away and I hear those words, “He/she is in a better place now.”

We are part of a natural world in which the chances of any of us ever being born at all and the odds against us ever experiencing life, ever, is immeasurable.

The idea of thinking there should be something better is like the winner of the largest-ever lottery selfishly exclaiming, upon winning: “Is that all there is? There should be more!”

Alan Inness


New development raises concerns

Re: Billion-dollar plan for Polo Park (Jan. 13)

The plan looks interesting, but I didn’t see any mention of new schools, daycares or playgrounds.

Allison Atkey


Re: Massive Polo Park development plan offers positive change for people instead of cars, architect says, Jan. 13

Contrary to being “positive,” as touted by developers, the latest plans for Winnipeg are yet again found wanting. Consider the following quote from a Cadillac Fairview vice-president: “For more than 60 years, (Polo Park) has served as a second downtown to Winnipeg and our redevelopment plan extends our long-term vision to further expand the community.”

In other words, 60 years ago Polo Park contributed to the decline of downtown Winnipeg and our “vision” is to worsen further the sorry state of downtown today.

Given 62,000 cars pass daily, Brent Bellamy fantasizes about light rail for Portage Avenue. Ignoring the lanes removed, most cars come from widely scattered homes in surrounding communities such as St.François Xavier and Headingley, and even the vast majority of homes “along” Portage are well beyond walking distance to mass transit.

Sadly, the main way this development will reduce automobile traffic on Portage is by fewer drivers going downtown to work in vacant office towers and deteriorating heritage buildings. Let’s not forget who enabled this misguided plan: non-Winnipeggers appointed by a Progressive Conservative government whose primary interest (i.e., voters) lies outside city boundaries.

Jim Clark


Slow down on slowing down

Re: Residential-street reduced-speed pilot expected to start in March (Jan. 4)

I am writing about the “Bourkevale 30” pilot project which is being touted as a panacea to resolving the issue of deaths and injuries of pedestrians on the residential streets of Winnipeg — which, according to your own research and fact-checking, does not exist.

Having followed this issue in the Free Press and other sources, which I assume do their due diligence and fact-checking, it appears the deaths and injuries of pedestrians in our city have occurred on main thoroughfares, many of which have speed limits of 60 km/h or higher. In our neighbourhood, the intersections of Portage Avenue with Ferry Road and Berry Street are particularly concerning.

Is there any discussion of lowering the speed limits on main arteries, since evidence seems to support it would reduce these incidents? No, of course not. Can you imagine the hue and cry that would ensue? But we can apparently afford to spend taxpayer dollars on a pilot project involving four neighbourhoods, with no evidence of actual harm reduction and only a “feel good” optic, while not addressing the real problem of excessive speeds on major routes.

Oh, and let’s not forget the financial benefit for the city — lots of potential fines for “speeders” driving 40 km/h, not realizing the limit is 30 km/h.

Having lived in this beautiful neighbourhood since 1988, my experience is that people already slow down, though perhaps not to 30 km/h.

Debra Jablonski



Updated on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 8:35 AM CST: Adds tile photo, adds links

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