With the passing of another year, we look back on some of the stories that made headlines across the west in 2019.
• Volunteers at Art City breathed a sigh of relief in January after they were able to recover property that had been stolen from the group during the holidays. Thieves had broken into the organization’s West Broadway location on Boxing Day and stolen digital cameras, a 3D printer and a hard drive containing 20 years of Art City history.
After putting the call-out on social media, an anonymous individual returned the hard drive. Police were also able to recover the printer and cameras, which turned up in local pawn shops. Between that and an insurance claim, Art City was able to replace all the lost equipment.
• Adam and Megan Schmidt, owners of Activate Games, welcomed customers to their Westwood business, which offered immersive video game experiences, rock climbing and more.
• Diners in West Broadway welcomed the return of the Sherbrook Deli, which reopened at the top of the new year, offering house-made corned beef, smoked meat and beef tongue among other delicacies.
• West Broadway’s Magic Bird Fried Chicken was named the best fried chicken in town during the 2019 Fried Chicken Fest. The restaurant won with a dish called "Cone Ranger," a waffle cone filled with pimento macaroni and cheese, topped with a piece of fried chicken and crispy chicken skin.
• The Schoolmasters Wives’ Club ended its operations in the city after six decades of service. The club, founded in 1955 by the wives of men who worked as teachers at the time, was a way for women who didn’t work during the day to engage in community service.
"We hate to give it up, but it’s for the best," Flood told The Metro in February. "We’ve got these friendships that will remain forever anyway."
• The West End community and the city as a whole was shaken on March 3 when Jamie Adao, 17, was killed in his home during a home invasion. Police arrived at the home and shot the 29-year-old assailant as he was assaulting the teen. Adao’s grandmother was also at home during the attack, though she was not injured.
Adao’s death was a stark and painful example of the havoc being wreaked on the city as it grappled with various poverty and drug-related crises. The 204 Neighbourhood Watch group held a vigil in his honour on March 4, and a roundtable discussion was held at Maples Collegiate later in March to discuss how to make the city safer.
• St. James Collegiate paid tribute to missing and murdered Indigenous women with a special project in March.
The Faceless Doll project, initiated by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, was supported by teacher Tara Tuchsherer and her First Nations, Metis and Inuit studies class, who made small felt dolls to commemorate women who had been lost.
• University of Winnipeg students felt the sting of homelessness during winter when they took part in the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign. Students in the school’s Business Administration Students’ Association took part in the campaign, which supported Resource Assistance for Youth in West Broadway.
• Trees Winnipeg’s ReLeaf program aimed to help the city improve its natural canopy.
Organization president Gerry Engel spoke with The Metro about the ReLeaf program, which provides residents with saplings and planting instructions, in April.
"It’s kind of an interesting area to talk about ReLeaf because we see the need for residents to plant more trees," he said at the time. "The City is failing at replanting enough trees considering the number that are being removed, but also private residents aren’t replacing trees at the rate that we need to in order to maintain the urban forest."
• The Dream Factory and the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservice Association teamed up this year to help a young girl realize her dream of eating the best sushi in the world.
Seven-year-old Karmyn Maranan was diagnosed with a rare form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in summer of 2018. Maranan, a sushi lover, sought comfort in the famous Japanese cuisine as she was treated for the disease.
The Dream Factory and MRFA teamed up to fundraise to send Karmyn and her family to Tokyo, where she could try the very best. Karmyn was to take the trip after she entered the maintenance phase of her chemotherapy treatments.
• Ab McDonald’s community paid tribute to his legacy this year.
McDonald, who died in September 2018 at his St. James home at the age of 82, won four Stanley Cups — three with the Montreal Canadiens and one with the Chicago Blackhawks — before he returned home to become the first captain of the Winnipeg Jets.
McDonald’s son David, friend Ted Foreman, and Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame president and longtime friend Don Kuryk embarked on a campaign to have the St. James Civic Centre renamed in his honour. The proposal was passed unanimously at Assiniboia community committee on May 7 and approved by city council later in the year.
"This is an individual we should try to recognize for more than just all the Stanley Cups he got, but for the person that he is, the family man he is," Kuryk said in May. "He gave of himself freely."
• The City of Winnipeg put a call out to Wolseley cyclists to learn how it might improve its bike path network.
An online survey, which was live until June 21, sought feedback on some preliminary design options for the Wolseley to Downtown Walk Bike Project.
"As the years go by, we’re starting to branch out of the downtown area. One of the neighbourhoods that we know has lots of cycling commuters through the community is Wolseley to downtown," said Mark Doucet, transportation facilities planning engineer for the City of Winnipeg, in a June interview.
The project had the aim to create connections to the Omand’s Creek pathway, the protected bike lanes on Assiniboine Avenue and Sherbrook Street, the bike lane on Maryland Street, and the planned greenway on Ruby and Banning streets. It also focused on pedestrian safety.
• The Old Grace Housing Co-op officially launched on June 14.
Located in the heart of Wolseley at the site of the original Grace Hospital, provided an affordable option for those in need of housing.
"The reason that housing co-ops generally become more affordable over time is because you don’t have to make a profit. All you have to do is cover your expenses," said board president Laura Sevenhuysen.
The Old Grace features seven fully accessible suites for people with disabilities, and 34 of the 64 units are affordable housing.
• Kapyong Park was officially dedicated on June 22 by Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman, local councillor Scott Gillingham and mayor Kim Sungki of Gapyeong, South Korea. The park memorializes the 700 soldiers of the Second Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry who fought in the Battle of Kapyong, which took place April 21 to 25 during the Korean War.
The park’s granite boulders represent the 2PPCLI soldiers, while its concrete blocks (which double as seating for 100 people) illustrate the overwhelming enemy numbers.
• On July 3, the West End BIZ unveiled a new mural at 551 Sargent Ave.
Executive director Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner said the mural is a little different than most.
"We did something a little more creative. We took an old fence and built a wall on it," she said.
"Otherwise, it was just a blank parking lot. We wanted to add some colour and interest to it."
The Infantino family at X-Cues donated and sponsored the space for the mural. Other project sponsors include Take Pride Winnipeg! and Dulux Paint.
University student artists Antoinette Baquiran and Rachel Goossen designed and painted the mural as part of the West End BIZ’s mural mentorship program.
• Brock Mason, a St. James man who grew up with the local Air Cadets, came home this summer to take to the Manitoba skies once again.
One of his fondest memories from Air Cadets, he told the Metro in July, is the time he soloed at the Winnipeg Flying Club out of the Winnipeg International Airport on July 8, 1961. This year, he decided he wanted to do it again.
"They don’t do much small airplane traffic over at Winnipeg anymore," he said, "but I called air traffic control to see if they would allow me to do a circuit on the 58th anniversary of my solo trip back in 1961 — and they said yes."
On July 8, Mason flew to Winnipeg from Steinbach to mark the milestone.
"I did a touch-and-go circuit 58 years to the day that I soloed there and it was great fun," he said. "That was what I wanted to do."
• Charles Baksh, a Westwood resident, was honoured this year for his contribution to cricket.
Baksh, who grew up playing the game in his birthplace of Trinidad, was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame as an athlete for his career with the sport.
""The sport of cricket, like other sports, has helped me learn important lessons of developing friendships, leadership qualities, communication skills, listening, humility, unselfishness — how to manage success as well as failures. In Trinidad it gave me opportunities for employment — as young talented cricketers were being scouted to play for specific adult teams," Baksh said after the announcement.
• In August, The Metro profiled a Charleswood swimmer who won five gold medals at the Western Canada Summer Games.
Mia West, a 13-year-old competitive swimmer, took home several medals during the games. West won the gold medal in the 200-metre Freestyle All Female, the 200-metre Butterfly All Female, the 200-metre Individual Medley All Female, the 50-metre Freestyle All Female, and the 100-metre Freestyle All Female.
West said although she’s happy with the medals, her biggest goal is keeping her love for the sport.
"I was really nervous when I swam the 200 (metre) freestyle … I still did good, even though I didn’t swim my fastest," West said over the phone. "My main focus is to keep (my love for) the sport. Of course, I like to improve and get better, but I also like to have fun and hang out with my teammates."
• September saw Manitobans head to the polls for the provincial election. The incumbent Progressive Conservative party was re-elected to power, losing only two seats overall.
In west Winnipeg, NDP were able to take some hotly contested seats.
In Wolseley, NDP nominee Lisa Naylor defeated the Green Party of Manitoba (GPM) nominee David Nickarz by 917 votes.
It was a grassroots campaign versus a national effort, as the GPM put everything they had into securing the riding.
In St. James the PCs and NDP battled it out, with the initial votes in favour of PC candidate Michelle Richard. But in the end, Sala pulled ahead, and won the riding with 4,009 votes, or 1,242 more than Richard.
St. James was previously held by the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba. Scott Johnston was elected as MLA of St. James in the 2016 election. Johnston has since moved on to the Assiniboia riding, where he was elected with 42.7 per cent of the votes.
Meanwhile, The Progressive Conservative Party was able to hold onto two key ridings: Assiniboia and Kirkfield Park.
Scott Fielding was re-elected as MLA of Kirkfield Park and Scott Johnston, former incumbent for the St. James riding, was elected as MLA of the new Assiniboia riding. Fielding and Johnston are longtime residents of the St. James-Assiniboia area, with Fielding serving the area both as a city councillor as well as an MLA.
In Kirkfield Park, roughly 24.2 per cent of the residents are aged 65 and older, compared to the 15.6 per cent province median age. Census data shows the median household income is $74,294. The riding has consistently voted PC until 2007, when the riding flipped to supporting the NDP.
Assiniboia was a different story. The riding has flipped between parties in its over 100-year history, recently voting PC in 2016. Johnston pushed out a victory against the NDP’s Joe McKellep with 4,102 votes.
Just like Kirkfield Park, the riding has a larger-than-average number of seniors, with 21.1 per cent of residents being 65 and older.
• The Harte Trail, which runs through Charleswood, got 100 new trees on Sept. 28.
The trees were donated by CN, in partnership with Tree Canada. The donation was a part of CN’s 100th anniversary, with a presentation of a plaque commemorating the donation.
Barb Hutton, president of Friends of the Harte Trail, said it was an amazing gift.
"It was such an unexpected gift, to find out we were going to be the recipient of these trees. It’s very fitting, this trail used to be a rail line owned by CN a long time ago," Hutton said.
"(The Harte Trail Committee) has been working on extending our tree line from the Van Roon Prairie Gardens to the Perimeter. This will really help."
CN donated $1 million towards planting trees in Winnipeg, which includes the 100 trees on the Harte Trail.
• Manitobans returned to the polls once again for the federal election. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were able to hold on to power, forming a minority government.
Manitoba saw a major upset as the NDP retook Winnipeg Centre from the Liberals.
Leah Gazan defeated incumbent Robert-Falcon Ouellette in a close race, with 39.4 per cent of the vote.
Although the party did well in Manitoba, nationally they’ve been pushed into 4th place by a newly emboldened Bloc Quebecois.
• Health care professionals at Deer Lodge Centre(DLC) won an award for developing a new way to treat wounds using electrical stimulation.
A team at Deer Lodge was one of the three recipients of the 2019 Health Innovation Award for Patient Centred Care at the WRHA annual general meeting, held on Oct. 22.
The treatment uses a TENS machine, an electric pain reliever often used in physiotherapy sessions, and places electrical pads on and around the wound. By using a certain electrical frequency, the electricity helps kick-start the skin’s natural healing abilities, slowly closing the wound.
Daryl Dyck, clinical nurse specialist at DLC, said they’ve seen some amazing results.
"(One testing candidate) had this wound for two years. Everything we had available to us, we had tried. The cost to maintain this conventional treatment, made us think this is a hopeless endeavour," Dyck said.
"We were able to heal the wound, we had some amazing results."
• In November, The Winnipeg School Division board of trustees passed a motion to condemn Quebec’s Bill 21, which prohibits public servants from wearing religious symbols.
Jennifer Chen, trustee for Ward 6, introduced the motion on Nov. 18, calling for the school division to condemn the controversial bill. Quebec’s Bill 21 became law in June 2019, and has faced heavy criticism for encouraging discrimination against religious minorities, such as Muslims.
Chen said immigrant and refugee communities are facing increased discrimination. She believes it’s the right time to put forward this motion.
"We are (one of) the most diverse school divisions in Manitoba. We should take a leadership role on this topic," Chen said. "I feel like it’s a critical time to put forward this motion, to reiterate our commitment to all students, staff … That we are committed to creating an inclusive environment in our schools."
The motion was passed at the Dec. 2 board meeting.
• The Canadian National Institute for the Blind Foundation (CNIB) Winnipeg hosted its first ever guide dog graduation ceremony on Nov. 22.
The event celebrated the canine graduates of the National CNIB Guide Dog program, highlighting the local organization’s first successful pairing: Tracy Garbutt, program lead at CNIB Winnipeg, and Marion, a two-year-old black Labrador retriever.
Garbutt, who is legally blind, said Marion has helped him get out of the house more.
"I took a break from dogs for two years… When I got Marion, it showed me how I was starting to regress, staying at home more," Garbutt said. "Now, (I) just feel good. My confidence is back again, I’m just doing things. I don’t hesitate to go (out) now, I just go."
• As the weather started getting colder, a local group of volunteers aimed to help homeless Winnipeggers stay warm for the winter.
1JustCity started the "Sew Much Love" campaign, aiming to sew 3,000 toques, neckwarmers and mitts before Nov. 23. The campaign started on Oct. 26, and they hope to have the winterwear items by 1JustCity’s fundraiser event, "Walk A Mile in My Shoes."
Laura Everett, the community capacity builder for 1JustCity, said the campaign started out of a need for more winter items to give away.
"It’s survival for a lot of people. A pair of (mitts) at Giant Tiger cost maybe 10 bucks? I know that might not mean much, but for some people it’s the difference between eating for a day and being warm," Everett said. "It’s just a reality. We need more (winter items) to hand out."
• At the beginning of December, the Urban Knights and Ladies Veterans Ambassador Peace Patrol delivered two small warming huts to a homeless camp by the Disraeli bridge.
The warming huts were simple structures made of plywood made by students from Stonewall Collegiate. The group also had a larger cabin made by the Greenwald Hutterite Colony in Beausejour.
Michael Patrick Belhumeur, the founder of the patrol, said they hope their shelters serve as a model that the city can use to end homelessness.
"We think this is a viable answer to ending homelessness. We’re hoping this starts a conversation at city hall," Belhumeur said. "We want the city to say ‘Hey, maybe this is a good idea.’ That would be an ideal goal for us, to see the city create more homes, offer a practical solution to (homelessness)."
After the cabins were placed during the first week of December, they were taken down by the City of Winnipeg, citing safety and bylaw concerns.
•The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA Manitoba) released their State of the Inner City 2019 report on Dec. 11. The report, titled Forest For the Trees: Reducing Drug and Mental Health Harms in the Inner City of Winnipeg, makes the case that the current government’s response to the drug crisis does not work, and unless they change their policies to a more compassionate approach, the drug crisis won’t end.
The report lists a number of recommendations, with No. 1 being that the City and the provincial government establish drug strategies based around harm reduction. Some of the other recommendations are for the federal government to decriminalize personal possession of drugs, and to create a poverty reduction strategy while creating low-income housing.
• The St. James Civic Centre will be shut down for around a year while the centre undergoes major renovations.
The St. James Civic Centre renewal and expansion project is scheduled to begin in April 2020. The extended closure is needed to repair building systems, such as the HVAC and electrical wiring, as many of the core building systems need to be updated.
The facility will also be expanded to include the St. James Assiniboia 55+ Centre.
The renewal is expected to cost $9.7 million dollars, paid for entirely for the City, while the expansion will cost around $14 million dollars and will be cost-shared by the City, the Province, and the federal government.
The centre is expected to reopen in June 2021.
Community journalist — The Metro
Justin Luschinski is the community journalist for The Metro. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org