Letters, Jan. 23
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Winnipeg’s film community grieves the loss of yet another downtown theatre.
The Towne 8 Cinema — like so many other demolished and abandoned downtown movie theatres, music venues, bars and hotels — was not just a theatre. It was a multicultural community hub that brought life, affordable entertainment and diverse people to our beloved Exchange District.
Many might not have understood the discreet charms of these particular “cheap seats,” instead wafting their air of privilege and judgment with accusations the Towne 8 was a “run-down theatre” with a considerable “lack of parking” — typical wealthy suburbanite complaints that continue to drive our city’s flawed downtown vision.
For many of us, the Towne 8 represented something so much more than meets the eye. It was a rare holdout in an age rampant and state-funded gentrification. It was a place where nearly anyone from any class or means could go, be with their fellow citizens and laugh and cry and scream in horror.
For many of us, it was a weekly Tuesday-night pilgrimage. I long for the days, seeing ragtag crews meet for a quick pint at the Yellow Dog, followed by an exhilarating theatrical experience shoulder-to-shoulder with teenagers and families and all the other people who make up downtown’s eclectic population. Nowhere in Winnipeg did I feel so completely immersed in a true “Winnipeg” as I did seeing the latest second-run screening of whatever film was my druther at the time.
What I really wonder is: where will these people go? Where will the 12 teenagers who effectively ran this entire operation work now? Is there anything low-income people living in our downtown area can actually afford to do anymore?
Moreover, why is Winnipeg’s downtown being curated for only the privileged and wealthy, instead of the people who have actually called this area home for decades? Where is CentreVenture on this issue, and why don’t they step up with their pools of tax dollars and do something?
We have been fed a myth wherein the highest bidder will save our cities from their otherwise ultimate doom, as long as the price is right. We have been told capitalist angel investors will swoop in with their benevolent golden wings and transform our crumbling city into a vibrant paradise of tomorrow, and we will all benefit from their immaculate trickle-down. If we subsidize it, they will come!
It’s all a lie. Capital, and the associations it uses as its proxies, are snatching up and destroying a once-vibrant artistic community in the Exchange and all across Winnipeg’s downtown, for profit. And it’s not new, and it’s not unique to Winnipeg. The transfer of wealth upwards — taking millions of tax dollars and handing them over to already-wealthy developers in the form of subsidies and free property — is a failed and corrupt system. Towne 8 Cinema is just the latest casualty.
Aaron Zeghers, filmmaker
Local athletes talented
Kudos to the sports department of the Free Press for your wonderful recent coverage of Winnipeg’s university sports programs.
I’m old enough to remember the days when university sports were highlighted in the local papers and crowds at games were standing-room only. Over the years, coverage of university sports was relegated to brief snippets of a few lines. The coverage provided over the last two weeks has been a welcome return to highlighting the exceptional talents we have in our own backyards.
Many of our local teams are currently ranked within the national top 10. Playoffs are just around the corner. I encourage sports fans to take in a local university sports match. It’s great, and affordable, entertainment provided by dedicated and talented young athletes born and raised in Winnipeg.
City missing the bus
I’ve lived and worked in Winnipeg my whole life. It seems as if the city keeps taking people in and filling up schools, but there’s no change in transit.
For a lot of people who don’t drive for one reason or another, getting around this city — nowadays especially — is either very dangerous or there’s just no room on the buses and they drive right by you. I can’t even get to work on time some days, no matter how early I leave, because the buses are packed end-to-end with students.
I, and a lot of people in this city that I’ve talked to, are totally disgusted with the buses and how they’re run and organized. Not to mention the more than handful of times I’ve been harassed, threatened and confronted by apparently drunk or extremely high individuals, and I’ve had to pull my spray or knife out more than a few times to protect myself and/or someone else on the bus.
I really hope someone will take this seriously. One one morning, I missed two Blue-route buses going down Pembina Highway because they were both too packed to stop; I was supposed to be on the 7:56 bus and, despite being at my stop at 7:45, I was still left standing there like a fool with buses flying by.
Costs of retiring steep
In 1952, when I was born, OAS doubled to $40 monthly starting at age 70. It is now $613 monthly, 15.3 times as much. However, the average cost of a home in 1952 was $7,750. Today, the average in Manitoba, one of the cheapest markets in the country, is $295,000, 38 times as much. Gas costs 35 times as much; an average car 23 times more before tax; food and clothing — don’t even get me started.
The estimated cost to support a single person in Canada in 2022, without rent, is $1,172 per month, according to Canada Immigration Services. OAS leaves you $559 short before you even find a friend’s sofa to call home. A 2022 dollar is worth 990 per cent less than a 1952 dollar, according to the Bank of Canada. Just to catch up with the real cost of living, the OAS needs to triple.
In 2020, 4.4 million Canadians had a pension from their jobs in the private sector; 12 million had nothing. The average Canadian without a non-government pension outside of OAS and CPP is retiring with savings of $3,000. And every year there are fewer full-time jobs with benefits, as companies go to more part-time staff, many of whom have to juggle two or three jobs, and to things such as self-checkouts.
My wife and I are lucky; she has a pension, so we get by. Just. My 15-year-old car is probably the last one I will own — it had darn well better outlast me. My retirement plan was to golf and maybe take a short vacation someplace warm in the winter. I can no longer afford golf; recreation is my old bicycle. And if I want someplace warm, I put on a sweater.
So, these are my golden years. I scrape up $20 a month for a homeless shelter for those worse off than I. And there are plenty.
Re: Governor General’s extravagance must end (Jan. 17)
I totally agree with the writer of this article. Why is it that the Governor General can spend this kind of money and get away with it? I don’t think they deserve this type of food, paid for by the taxpayers, when so many people are out of work and cannot afford to eat healthy.
She should be ashamed. This extravagance could be better spent somewhere else, such as on the homeless, by giving this money to organizations that can help them find housing and get back on their feet.
Updated on Monday, January 23, 2023 11:42 AM CST: Adds links, adds tile photo