Bridgwater Forest community correspondent
Debbie Ristimaki is a community correspondent for Bridgwater Forest.
Recent articles by Debbie Ristimaki
We’re tired and stressed – but also blessed3 minute read Preview Friday, Oct. 15, 2021
I am tired of all of the angry people. I am tired of lining up. I am tired of having to adjust my expectations of what I can find when shopping. I am tired of having to think twice before gathering with others and yes, I am tired of having to wear a mask. And did I mention that I am tired of hearing the word ‘COVID’?
That said, I also fear that this is becoming our new normal. We are entering the post -pocalyptic world where masks are de rigueur and are considered a form of self expression and having a swab shoved up your nose is no different to brushing your teeth everyday. OK, I admit that I may be exaggerating, but you have to admit that there are times when it feels like we are playing out a movie scene.
But, is there a silver lining in all of this?
Of course, there is.
Morning contemplations on community3 minute read Preview Tuesday, Jun. 29, 2021
It is 5 a.m. on a June workday. I am sitting outside enjoying my coffee, waiting for the sun to rise which will be at 5:19 this morning. I can hear a few cars, a crow doing its thing in the distance, and little else.
I have always found this to be the best time of the day. I can gather my thoughts, watch and listen as the world around me awakens.
As the sun slowly rises above the distant roofs, it is as if it is a signal goes out to all of the other local birds saying, “time to get up and out” and get up they do, Funny enough, the humans in the area also seem to heed the call, as the higher volume of cars on the roads suggests.
Interestingly, it has not always been that way which, is to be expected. The neighbourhood has grown considerably since we made Bridgwater Forest home in 2013. With that growth comes change and we have seen plenty of it. From the number of new families moving into the area to a reduction in the gull population.
Time to take up the Million Tree Challenge3 minute read Preview Wednesday, May. 26, 2021
As you enter Bridgwater from the north, you are welcomed by the tall structure sitting between the north and southbound lanes of Kenaston Boulevard. I am not sure of the correct term for it but it is impressive and very hard to miss.
Not so impressive are the spruce trees that frame it. They appear unloved and uncared for. In my view, they look dead and ready to be removed. What makes them interesting is the fact that they are not the original trees, which met the same fate a few years ago.
Take a drive around Bridgwater Forest and look at the trees along the roads. How many have been damaged during snow clearing operations, hit by vehicles or are simply struggling?
Then, take a walk through the forest, how many have died? Appear to be dying?
‘Carpe diem’ now means so much more2 minute read Preview Thursday, Apr. 1, 2021
A couple of years ago, on a road trip to Banff, we passed a bright red building sitting in a beautiful field of canola in peak colour.
My camera was ready but we opted not to stop, thinking we would do so on the return trip. Needless to say, it didn’t happen as the yellow of the canola had already begun to fade by the time we passed it again.
Twice now we have driven by Kakabeka Falls in Ontario’s Kakabeka Provincial Park, just west of Thunder Bay. And yes, each time, I wanted to stop but, for one reason or another, we didn’t.
I had always said that I wanted to go to France for my 50th birthday. I wanted to see Paris and stand at the foot of the Eiffel Tower but, not actually go up, as I am not a fan of heights. I wanted to explore the countryside, enjoy a coffee and croissant on a terrasse and simply take in the world around me.
A 2021 wish list for Bridgwater and area3 minute read Preview Monday, Jan. 4, 2021
As we bring in the new year, I have no promises to make nor resolutions to break. What I do have is a list of wishes for the community.
Bridgwater grew by leaps and bounds in 2020 and not just population-wise. I mean its community spirit. I have never seen so many people out and about — it has been wonderful. They are spending time outside — from walking the trails to connecting on the ice, masks and all. And they have been supportive of both each other and local businesses.
At the other end of the spectrum sit safety and driving.
With the above in mind, here are a few items currently on my 2021 list. I wish:
Shopping local always beats online3 minute read Preview Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020
My inbox is drowning with promotional emails and both my Facebook and Instagram accounts are not too far behind. Retailers far and wide are throwing everything they have at me and I have no one to blame but myself.
And what nefarious deed(s) did I do to deserve this?
Well, I have spent a good part of 2020 window-shopping, COVID-style. I have never claimed to be much of an online shopper, but that definitely changed this year. We did some renovations in the house and needed to replace some fixtures and furniture and, as we all know, in-person shopping was not nor is not currently encouraged — so we went online.
We looked for inspiration from retailers both here in Winnipeg and beyond. We browsed and yes, we bought which, admittedly, was much too easy. I think that I could get used to it and having the parcels dropped at our door was a bonus.
A day trip to the Pembina valley3 minute read Preview Friday, Sep. 18, 2020
You don’t know how good you’ve got it until it’s gone. We take so much for granted and sadly it has taken a global pandemic to be reminded of that fact.
We have always had that ‘get up and go’ kind of approach to life. From travel to exploring our local community to shopping and dining out — all of which came to a screeching halt earlier this year.
Like most things, I do believe that this, too, shall pass. It is only a question of when, so until then we continue to adapt.
That doesn’t mean that we haven’t been able to explore the outdoors and the province itself through day trips. Granted, early on during the pandemic we had to consider distances and whether there would be washroom facilities available to the public but, that is not the case today.
Planning ahead for a COVID-19 winter2 minute read Preview Friday, Aug. 28, 2020
I know it is August and the temperature still sits in the 30 C range but I am dreaming of winter.
Well, perhaps I should I say that we are planning for a COVID-19 winter.
No, I am not a pessimist but if our experience so far this year is any indication, we need to be better prepared. We learned some lessons early on about what items we should always have on hand at home and more importantly, how and where to shop.
If truth be told, I didn’t even have the tap feature enabled on my debit card. This was reminiscent of what I called the ‘Harry Potter phenomenon’ — anybody and everybody seemed to have read those books when they first came out, except me. That was exactly how I felt with my debit card — everybody had ‘tap’ but me.
Your health and wellness needs can still be met2 minute read Preview Monday, Apr. 27, 2020
Healthcare and wellness remains at top of mind for many since the advent of COVID-19. That being said, the providers of these much needed services have also found themselves challenged to find new and creative ways to continue to operate.
The Bridgwater Medical Centre provides health care directly on site, albeit with protocols in place in order to protect both patients and staff. Alternately, phone consultations are available by calling the clinic or booking directly online: www.bridgwatermedical.ca
Not an essential service, North Town Road’s Eyes on Bridgwater has closed temporarily but does provide eye care to its patients through its Waverley Eye Care Centre, located at 1200 Waverley St.
Patients are invited to contact them in the case of eye emergency, eyeglass and/or contact lens needs. According to Dr. Selena Friesen, appointments, if required, are at a minimum of one hour apart and patients are asked not to just drop in.
Signs of spring in Bridgwater5 minute read Preview Monday, Mar. 2, 2020
On Feb. 2, Shubenacadie Sam called for six additional weeks of winter. Wiarton Willie, on the other hand, predicted an early spring. Which was right? Only time will tell.Other than being able to drive with my window open, my true gauge of whether spring is nigh is people. Yes indeed — people! The sight of more people out and about is a sign that the season is changing. For example, who have I run into or chatted with on the driveway? How many others are out walking on the many trails in and around the neighbourhood? Unfortunately the less pleasant aspect of spring in Winnipeg is the dust and gravel. You wear it, it’s everywhere, and in everything. As much as I look forward to turning the furnace off and letting the fresh air in, I dread the dust that will accompany it.But, it’s all good! The spring cleanup is not far off unless, of course, Sam got it right.For those new to life in the neighbourhoods of Bridgwater, cleanup usually brings neighbours together to clean up our shared spaces like the forest, and along the trails and lakes. In past years, Bridgwater Forest, Lakes, and Trails have been sponsored by local businesses and have provided the supplies (including snacks). It is another great opportunity to get to know your neighbours and make a difference so do watch out for the dates and consider joining in!In terms of other recent and upcoming local community events:• Prairie Pointe held its first Valentine’s event at École South Pointe School. Approximately 130 residents attended.• South Pointe’s Winter Celebration was being planned for Feb. 29; • For the young generation, the Southwest Community Centre is hosting a preteen St. Patrick’s Day Dance on March 13. The calendar and details are available at www.swcc1.ca;• Whyte Ridge and Linden Ridge will be celebrating cultural diversity on Sun., April 19 — see www.whyteridge.ca for more information.• And for a different pace, Pembina Active Living will be hosting a spring concert on April 4 with Corny Rempel, a Johnny Cash/Elvis impersonator. Information can be found at www.pal55plus.com or by calling 204-946-0839.In the end, it doesn’t really matter who was right, spring will arrive and with it more opportunities to connect with the neighbourhood. The key is to step out and join in.
On Feb. 2, Shubenacadie Sam called for six additional weeks of winter. Wiarton Willie, on the other hand, predicted an early spring. Which was right? Only time will tell.
Other than being able to drive with my window open, my true gauge of whether spring is nigh is people. Yes indeed — people! The sight of more people out and about is a sign that the season is changing. For example, who have I run into or chatted with on the driveway? How many others are out walking on the many trails in and around the neighbourhood?
Unfortunately the less pleasant aspect of spring in Winnipeg is the dust and gravel. You wear it, it’s everywhere, and in everything. As much as I look forward to turning the furnace off and letting the fresh air in, I dread the dust that will accompany it.
Let’s bring Waverley West together3 minute read Preview Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020
Has the time come for Waverley West to come together as a community?
It may be considered a ward for the purposes of the City of Winnipeg, however, in many respects, it is simply a geographic area consisting of a group of smaller communities that include the neighbourhoods of Bridgwater, South Pointe and Prairie Pointe as well as the more established ones of Whyte Ridge, Linden Ridge, Waverley Heights, University Heights, Fairfield Park and Richmond West, to name a few.
There is no arguing the fact that each neighbourhood developed naturally over time, based on physical location and even the developer that built the homes.
More than that, each has its share of neighbourhood issues and concerns which may or may not be in common with others — but the odds are they have more in common than not. Safety and security are two issues that come to mind. Then, of course, there are the community activities and, yes, a city councillor!
Here’s to kicking off a new decade2 minute read Preview Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020
Last year, for the most part, was about building a sense of community and getting to know your neighbours. It was about getting out and about. It was about block parties and saying “hello neighbour."
Fast forward to 2020. I have now found myself reflecting on the direction that my columns have taken and where they will take us. And, I do mean “us” as we are on the journey together!
Do I continue with the same themes or is time to move on? I do have some ideas for future columns however I would love to hear from you, the reader.
After all, the Neighbourhoods of Bridgwater as well as the nearby developments of Prairie Pointe and South Pointe continue to grow, which means that there is a lot more going on. With that in mind, what interests you? What are the stories that you want to hear about? What do you want or need to know about your community? Please drop me a note and let me know. I can always be reached at email@example.com
We can overcome our growing pains3 minute read Preview Monday, Sep. 17, 2018
At times, one needs to take a step backwards in order to move forward. At least that is what I tell myself when it comes to the growing pains that the Bridgwater neighbourhoods are currently facing.
No, I am not about to start complaining and yes, there are a lot of really good things happening in the area.
For example, we have neighbourhood associations, run by volunteers, which advocate on our collective behalf, organize activities and act as a central point of contact and information. They have done some excellent work but it’s not all up to them.
Thus our growing pains.
Unleash the hounds at Charleswood Dog Park3 minute read Preview Friday, Sep. 15, 2017
With two high-energy dogs at home, we are always on the lookout for ways to preserve our sanity.
Winnie, a bearded collie, and Alice, a standard poodle, both have what appears to be a boundless energy that needs to be released. There is no doubt that a good walk helps but it isn't enough, as they need to be able to run full out.
Luckily for us, Winnipeg has a number of options when it comes to off-leash parks — 11 according to the city’s website.
The Charleswood Dog Park on Grant Avenue has become one of our favourites. It may not be the closest as both King’s Park and Maple Grove Park are just a few minutes from the neighbourhoods of Bridgwater but it is worth the drive.
It’s time to get on the road again3 minute read Preview Monday, Jul. 11, 2016
As a child, road trips were quite common for our family. Whether it was to the cottage in Quebec’s Laurentian mountains, the beach (Long Sault in Ontario or Plattsburgh in upstate New York) or even a family visit to Timmins Ont., we spent many a summer driving somewhere.
Fast forward to today. I still find myself spending quite a bit of time in the car going somewhere and, at times, even nowhere.
What has changed, however, is my view of road trips in and of themselves. They used to be a means to end — as it was always about the final destination.
Does “Are we there yet?” sound familiar?
Summer living is for the birds3 minute read Preview Monday, Jun. 29, 2015
Life on the lakes or bordering the forest means that nature is always nearby — from geese and ducks to deer and the ever-present squirrels.
Then of course, there are the birds. I have heard the word 'pesky' used to describe them but I am a firm believer that they represent the vibrancy of a neighbourhood. When out and about, we have spotted our share of red-winged blackbirds, yellow finches, woodpeckers, chickadees and blue jays, to name a few.
But what if you're not located near one the natural habitats and want to be able to enjoy nature's gifts?
The simple answer is to invite them. Invite them to dinner. If you provide for them, they will find you.
Your neighbourhood association needs you2 minute read Preview Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2015
The days are definitely getting longer, the sun warmer, and the air is somehow fresher. Spring! It is right around the corner.
It is a time for renewal, for growth and for change. Change not only from an environmental perspective but a physical one as well. Just look around. The ongoing construction and resale market means that the neighbourhood itself continues to change and evolve with new homes and the accompanying new faces.
All that is going on begs the question: “What makes a community?”
Is it a grouping of houses, location or something else? It would be an interesting question to ask of The Bridgwater Forest Neighbourhood Association (BFNA), however I have a feeling that the answer would be that location is a definitely a starting point but it is also about the people.