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This article was published 31/12/2018 (1234 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Quite a lot happened in west Winnipeg last year. Here are some of the stories that made headlines in 2018.
Young author with dyslexia publishes first book
In January, The Metro shared the story of Grade 7 River West Park student Milla Richards, who published her first book after being diagnosed with dyslexia in 2016.
"When I started the book it was like three days before I learned I was dyslexic," Richards said. "I was more determined to finish the book and get it on the shelf."
The book, titled Moon Wolf, is a blend of fantasy and non-fiction that was picked up by McNally Robinson Booksellers. Richards described the book as fantasy with some elements of nonfiction that featured elements and characters inspired by her own life.
St. James distillery cleans up at national awards
Capital K Distillery, located in St. James’ industrial district, took home top honours for their locally-made spirits at the Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition in February.
The company’s Tall Grass vodka received gold, its gin received silver, its dill pickle vodka received silver and its espresso vodka received bronze at the inaugural competition.
"It means a lot to us," distillery owner Jason Kang said, adding that he hoped the recognition will make his business better known to Manitobans. "In general, people are not looking for local spirits because they don’t think we have it here."
More than 50 distilleries from across Canada entered the competition.
Laura Secord unveils new gymnasium
The doors to Laura Secord’s fully accessible gym opened in February.
The 11,000 square-foot space was a massive upgrade from what staff refer to as the "heritage gym" — a room on the second floor of the school that is one-third of the size of the new gym and was constructed along with the rest of the building in 1912.
The gym includes fully accessible change rooms and washrooms, a canteen, and a glass skyway that connects the new building to the old. The Manitoba government contributed $5.4 million to the project, which took a year and a half to complete.
Westwood band sweeps international festival
Westwood Collegiate’s various bands returned from the Optimist Clubs of Winnipeg’s International Band Festival in March with an unheard-of six awards, including the notable Don Green award, which a school can only receive once.
Band director Greg Edwards insisted that it would have been impossible to get to this level without the students leading the effort.
"This particular year, things just clicked," Edwards said.
In addition to the Don Green award, the senior jazz band received a perfect score,which Edwards says is very rare. The other groups ranked as superior, and were only a few points shy of perfect scores themselves.
New bakery does things the old way
Big windows, leafy plants and the smell of fresh-baked bread — it’s no wonder Hildegard’s Bakery had a full house on one of their first official days open in April.
Dave Newsom and his wife Judith Friesen, together with friend Michael Harms, are running the business as an offshoot of Friesen’s parents’ company, Integrity Foods.
"The name comes from an interesting historical figure called Hildegard of Bingen… She wrote a lot about science and plants and the nutritional benefit of certain grains, especially spelt," Newsom said.
The shop, located on the southwest corner of Maryland Street and Portage Avenue, was once a car dealership and later turned into offices.
Grace Hospital unveils new ER
On May 24, St. James’ Grace Hospital unveiled a new emergency department that added 38,000 square-feet to the hospital’s footprint. The total cost of the addition was $43.8 million and was first estimated to open in December 2017.
The new ER features an open-concept design, additional assessment and treatment rooms and safe spaces for patients who are at risk of harming themselves or others. Most strikingly, the spaces are well-lit by skylights and windows, allowing patients and staff to know what time of day it is.
The larger space and increased staff are said to increase the Grace’s intake capacity by 35,000 patients per year.
New park features pay tribute to veterans
In June, work started on improvements to Kapyong Park meant to honour the 700 soldiers of the Second Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) who fought in the Battle of Kapyong in the Korean War.
The project included urban design features, decorative wood fencing, a paving stone plaza, rubberized surfacing, benches and three new flagpoles that will fly flags from Canada, South Korea and the PPCLI). The park also provides a meaningful space to honour three surviving veterans of the Kapyong Battle living in Manitoba: Ron Shephard, Doug Jones and Michael Czuboka.
Warm welcome home after royal deployment
Touching down at Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg on July 17 marked the end of a "bucket list" experience for nearly 120 regular and reserve members of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
The troops returned to Canadian soil following a five-week deployment in London, U.K., where they served as members of the Queen’s Guard— a first in the RCAF’s 94-year history.
"It was amazing, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in London and be part of the guard," said Sgt. Katrina Limberatos, who was welcomed home by her daughter Kira and son Alexander.
The soldiers were greeted on the tarmac at the St. James base by two fire trucks performing a "water salute" and friends and family members offering hugs and waving handmade signs.
Crestview recreation centre damaged in fire
A steady stream of community members stopped by the boards of the Assiniboia West Recreation Centre’s outdoor hockey rinks on Thurs., Aug. 2 to assess the damage following an early morning fire.
Most of the damage was contained to the centre’s skate shack and storage area attached to the outdoor rinks— the community centre’s main building was unaffected, aside from smelling of smoke.
Assiniboia West Recreation Association president Nicole Woelke said that while the fire was disheartening "the show will go on."
Saying goodbye to the Neighbourhood
On Aug. 27, residents said goodbye to a Wolseley gathering place with the closure of The Neighbourhood Bookstore and Café.
Owner Bill Fugler opened The Neighbourhood 13 years ago with the intention of creating a meeting place in the heart of the community. He decided to close the cafe mostly for personal reasons, but also because of an ongoing legal battle with the City. The lengthy dispute over the installation of a grease trap in the cafe has made it to the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench and is still "totally unresolved," according to Fugler.
"Today is bittersweet," said owner Bill Fugler on Aug. 27, the coffee shop’s last day in business. "I’m gonna miss it, I’m gonna miss selling books, I’m (also) going to be glad I don’t have this much work to do."
Removal of memorial ‘gut-wrenching’
A Westwood resident Florence Smart was devastated to discover that the memorial to her late husband Jack had been removed by the Assiniboine Park Conservancy without her knowledge.
"I just think of all the other poor souls who might not know because I know how I felt; it was gut-wrenching to be honest," Smart said. "It was more than a bench… it had meaning for us."
Smart made a $750 donation to dedicate the bench in December 2003 — shortly after Jack lost his battle with cancer. At this time, the City of Winnipeg still owned Assiniboine Park and was managing the park bench donation program through Assiniboine Park Enterprise.
The APC has approximately 30 or 40 unclaimed plaques
Smart says APC offered to put Jack’s plaque on the new bench for $3,500 — an offer she has refused.
Students analyze results of spacebound project
Wolseley School students Kiara Dayson, Betty Ngo, Emelia Stephenson, Madeline Stewart and Sariah Dayson headed back to class in September with an out-of-this-world summer vacation experience.
The students’ experiment into the effects of microgravity on yarrow germination was one of two Winnipeg School Division projects selected for the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.
"It was pretty exciting," Madeline said. "Something that we touched was on the International Space Station."
The Grade 6 and 7 all-girls STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) team, led by Wolseley School principal Suzanne Mole, wanted to know if yarrow would grow in space without soil.
Congregations cope with amalgamation
In September, The Metro reported on the amalgamation process being undertaken at three longstanding United Churches in St. James.
On Oct. 1, the congregations of Silver Heights and Kirkfield Park amalgamated with Sturgeon Creek to become the new Prairie Spirit United Church.
"People are grieving for the loss of their building and the loss of their history, but that’s giving way to excitement now," said Val Goodridge, chair of the session at Silver Heights.
An aging population and fewer churchgoing young people meant a drop in membership across all three congregations — Sturgeon Creek had roughly 180 regular members, Silver Heights hovered at 60 and Kirkfield Park had about 40.
A mix of new and old after civic election
Two incumbents and two new councillors were elected in West Winnipeg during the Oct. 24 municipal election.
In Charleswood-Tuxedo, former Winnipeg Sun publisher Kevin Klein came out victorious in the four-way race for an open council seat.
In St. James two incumbents were running against one another after the ward boundaries were re-drawn this year. Incumbent Scott Gillingham held onto his seat with 55.43 per cent of the vote over former St. Charles councillor Shawn Dobson’s 38.85 per cent.
In Daniel McIntyre, incumbent Cindy Gilroy was re-elected. She received 6,396 votes to candidate Josh Brandon’s 4,592 votes.
In Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry, which includes the Armstrong’s Point neighbourhood, Sherri Rollins was elected to fill the seat left vacant by former councillor Jenny Gerbasi.
New song a tribute to local valour
Tec Voc student Heidi Wright paid tribute to three of Winnipeg’s most recognizable soldiers with a song this past Remembrance Day.
The 15-year-old wrote The Boys of Valour Road after driving past the large mural depicting Cpl. Leo Clarke, Sgt. Maj. Frederick William Hall and Lt. Robert Shankland at the corner of Ellice Avenue and Valour Road.
"I went home and I started researching and finding out who they were and I thought to myself that this would be a good Remembrance Day song to write," Wright said.
Wright performed the song during her school’s Remembrance Day service on Nov. 9 and recorded a version of The Boys of Valour Road with the help of some of her classmates.
WSD board looks to extend voting rights
A unanimous vote at a Nov. 19 Winnipeg School Division board meeting was met with cheers from a group of local immigrant advocates.
During the meeting, the board threw support behind a motion that would give newcomers, regardless of their citizenship status, and high school students the right to vote in school board elections.
"It’s a wonderful outcome," said Abdikheir Ahmed of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg. "It shows the interest and the commitment of our leaders at the school division level to include people who are not normally included in decision-making."
The motion, put forward by Ward 3 trustee Mark Wasyliw, will now be presented to the Minister of Education since any changes to the Municipal Councils and School Board Elections Act have to be approved by the province. The elections act currently requires all voters to be Canadian citizens.
Governor general visits 17 Wing
Wearing a green flight suit and sharing salutes with officers at 17 Wing Winnipeg, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette revisited her roots during a tour of the St. James Air Force base on Nov. 27.
"I’m part of the military family, very proudly so, and whenever I come to a base I really feel at home," she said, adding that she trained as a pilot with the Canadian Air Force in Moose Jaw, Sask., before beginning her astronaut training.
Payette visited with the wing’s 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron and 402 "City of Winnipeg" Squadron before departing from Winnipeg following a two-day visit.
Long Plain gets META
Long Plain First Nation is touting its second retail cannabis location as a one-stop shop for Winnipeggers to get gas and grass.
On Dec. 7, the First Nation and its partners from META Cannabis Supply Co.— which is owned by National Access Cannabis— cut the ribbon on a new store at 420 Madison St. The business is located on Long Plain’s three-acre urban reserve in the Polo Park area that currently includes an office building and a Petro-Canada gas station.
"I’m sure a lot of people will come and gas up and come and pick up their grass at the same time," Long Plain Chief Dennis Meeches said. "It’s a great location."
The First Nation opened its first META store on its urban reserve land in Portage la Prairie in November.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.