Letters, Feb. 20
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Transit for people in a hurry
I read with interest Thursday’s lead editorial, Bizarre backlash greets 15-minute-city proposal (Feb. 15), regarding the widespread ridicule that met Edmonton’s proposal to have all amenities within a 15-minute walk of anyone’s front door.
I was especially interested because, for some years, I have been proposing that Winnipeg adopt a policy of having a bus stop within 10 minutes of everyone’s door. Notably, the Edmonton proposal did not include transit services. But like the Edmonton proposal, mine was also met by a heated backlash: namely, an outraged cry of “What about the elderly and the handicapped?”
There, the similarity ends. No such objections were raised to the Edmonton proposal. But if 15 minutes is good for Edmonton, why is 10 minutes wrong for Winnipeg? In fact, the Winnipeg transit system is defined with a de facto five-minute coverage specification: namely, that all residential homes should be no more than 400 metres from a bus stop.
It turns out there are huge savings to be made by changing this criterion to 800 metres, or 10 minutes. Typically, this means that instead of having buses on Sargent and Ellice avenues running every 20 minutes, the two routes could be collapsed into one and have service every 10 minutes. Yes, some people would have to walk a little farther. But waiting times would be drastically reduced. By pursuing this strategy throughout the city, I drew up a plan showing how all major radial arteries (Main Street, Portage Avenue, St. Mary’s Road, etc.) could be covered at five-minute intervals without needing any more buses or drivers.
To those who ridiculed and rejected my plan, I have one thing to say. If Winnipeg wants a transit system that is used by busy people that need to get from point A to point B in a hurry, it needs to design a system for those people.
City needs to confront crime
Re: No surprises: taxes to rise as part of proposed city budget (Feb. 8)
So with a Cheshire-cat grin, newly elected Mayor Scott Gillingham “is set to follow through on his major election promises, including tax and levy hikes” that he had “committed to doing” through his campaign.
Mayor Gillingham, anyone can raise taxes when in government, that is as easy as ABC, because there is nothing any government desires more than taxpayers’ money to waste on pet projects in order to get re-elected, at the same time ignoring the “big picture.”
Let’s stop with the fallacy we are a growing city, when we are stagnant compared with other major Canadian cities, and stop with the overused excuse of “extra costs associated with the pandemic and extremely high expenses for snow and ice clearing” for the budget shortfall. It has become tiresome.
The facts are our downtown has been allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that no matter the revitalization rhetoric, bike paths, True North Square, Waterfront Drive, or other developments, it has become an urban desert, with boarded-up businesses due to neglect, with only hot air from city hall to address the rampant crime, addiction and the homeless problem.
Six years ago, bus driver Irvine Fraser was murdered. Since then, violence on buses has increased. Six years and what? Safety shields that do not shield the driver, and more bus violence.
These are the problems regular Winnipeggers want addressed — not roads, electric buses, more bike paths, calming circles, and so forth.
Mayor Gillingham, it didn’t take you long to fulfil the easy promise of raising taxes, so now, let’s stop with the endless consultations, committees and surveys on crime, the homeless and transit violence, and get to actually doing something concrete.
Raising taxes are easy; solving real problems is a little tougher.
Team name a problem
I am somewhat taken aback by the Winnipeg Free Press referring, on several occasions, including in headlines, to the winners of the Super Bowl by their team moniker. As a rather large article in your paper pointed out just before the Super Bowl, many Indigenous communities take exception to the use of the name.
They are not the only ones. I would guess many of your non-Indigenous readers, including me, do also.
I am not sure about this editorial choice. It is not that your audience would confuse the champions with some other professional football team from Kansas City.
In the age of reconciliation, you’ve got to do better.
The dime-space continuum
Re: What’s up (Feb. 16)
I need the Free Press or Ciao to explain the meaning of “Dining Out on a Dime.” For whom is $19 to $39 considered “budget conscious” and “dining out on a dime”? How do you even use $19 and “budget conscious” in the same sentence?
Clearly my concept of a dime is not what is meant in this article.
Light and darkness
Re: Blame the Kaiser? (Letters, Feb. 15)
Abandoning the biannual time changes would open the floodgates for endless debate. If it were easy, it would have been done long ago, and a great deal of breath and newspaper ink would have been conserved.
Winnipeg’s longest day is fully twice as long as its shortest. That dramatic annual variance in sunrise and sunset times is what will cause the problem.
The problem is most aggravating in early morning and late night, in the height of summer and the depths of winter.
You would have to choose between daylight time, or standard time. Pick the former, and sunrise can be as early as 4:19 a.m. in the summer, with sunset at 8:40 p.m. Pick the latter and sunrise can be as late as 9:23 a.m. (on Dec. 21).
And the sun would rise after 9 a.m. in all of December and January — not ideal for school dropoffs, or pedestrians.
Either way, without the change life would be altered (get up well before work in summer to do the old after-work necessities, or in winter go to work hours before sunrise and enjoy it on your first coffee break.)
Wherever he is, the Kaiser must find all this hugely amusing.
Scott Insch gives some interesting history about the Kaiser, Benjamin Franklin and daylight time. But I think he comes to the wrong conclusion. A better solution would be to stay on daylight time year-round.
Insch argues the changing of the time causes health problems and accidents. But this problem can be solved by staying on daylight time. One or two centuries ago, people got up about 4 a.m. to be out working in the fields by 6 a.m. Most people do not do that now. Typically, they work until about 5 p.m., and enjoy summer evenings at parks, playing baseball, football, Frisbee, etc., or paddling or boating on our rivers.
Even with daylight time, the evenings get short in mid- to late August. Standard time would make evenings useless. Most people would prefer the extra hour of light at 8 p.m. rather than 4 a.m. in summer.
In December, some will complain it is too dark in the morning, others in the evening. There is only so much daylight and we should use it to benefit most people. Daylight time all year is the better solution.