Year in Review 2019

A look back on the biggest stories in southwest Winnipeg

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This article was published 30/12/2019 (1000 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

January: Daycare expansion at U of M

A multi-million dollar daycare expansion at the University of Manitoba was celebrated on Jan. 8.
The 7,750-square-foot expansion at the Campus Children’s Centre added 54 additional spaces.
Funding for the expansion, which added a second, naturally lit, wheelchair accessible wing and small gym to the centre along Dysart Road, was provided by University of Manitoba Student Association ($2.4 million), the University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association ($300,000), the provincial government ($600,000), and the centre itself.
The expanded space can now accommodate 138 children from three months to six years old.

Sweet spot added to Grant Park

File photo by Danielle Da Silva The University of Manitoba’s child care centre celebrated at multimillion dollar expansion on Jan. 8. The Campus Child Care Centre can now accomodate 138 children. There are currently 800 kids on the waitlist for centre.

Oh Doughnuts opened a second location on Taylor Avenue at the start of the year.
Amanda Kinden, business owner of Oh Doughnuts, said the business was busting out of its original space on Broadway with staff and customers bumping elbows for space.
Kinden, who lives in Crescentwood, said the new retail location will allow Oh Doughnuts to increase its baking capacity and opens the door for new products and markets.

February: Newcomer hub initiated at Pembina Trails School Division

The Newcomer Community Hub at Pembina Trails School Division opened at Ryerson School on Jan. 26.

The hub is a resource centre with the purpose of connecting immigrant and refugee parents with community resources.

The initial focus of the community hub was to provide parenting and psycho-social supports, as well as building connections to the local community and resources, the school division said. Pembina Trails will provide a dedicated, furnished space in the school for the community hub (which has its own separate entrance) and the community partners will provide the programming and services.

Assistant superintendent Susan Schmidt said in spring of 2018, staff at Ryerson and nearby schools expressed concern that increasingly, refugee children in their classrooms had not had previous schooling and were also dealing with the effects of trauma and displacement. In particular, Yazidi students coming into the school division required additional supports.    

“Their settlement into the classrooms and into the schools was not great; it was rocky,” Schmidt said. “In Pembina Trails, we’re used to loads and loads of newcomers… but this was different, so we went on to problem solve.”

Over the summer, Pembina Trails connected with dozens of newcomer serving organizations, including Immigration Partnership Winnipeg, Mosaic Newcomer Family Resource Network, Yazidi Association of Manitoba, and the N.E.E.D.S. Centre, to devise a way to support these families and make services more accessible in the neighbourhood.

U of M makes space for another hockey team

On Jan. 30, the Western Hockey League announced the Kootenay Ice junior hockey team would be moving to Winnipeg from Cranbrook, B.C.

The team, which was renamed the Winnipeg Ice, was slated to play the 2019-20  and 2020-21 seasons in the university’s Wayne Fleming Arena while a new 4,500-seat arena is constructed as part of a sports, recreation and commercial complex being built on a site in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald — possibly in or next to the South Landing Business Park.
The relocation of the Ice to Winnipeg is the first time since 1984 that a WHL team has been based in the city.

March: Charity offers live-saving lessons

A new charitable foundation called Ready, Set, Swim! held a launch event earlier this year to raise money — around $70,000 — to provide water safety education to newcomer and low-income children between six and 18 years old.

Rishona Hyman, founder of Ready, Set, Swim! as well as a certified lifeguard and swim instructor, said too often over the course of her career she’s seen kids — whether a part of a swim group or school class — who are out of their depth in the water and overestimate their abilities.

The purpose of the organization is to prevent drownings in Manitoba’s rivers, lakes and pools.

The plan was to provide eight weeks of lessons to participants and, to reduce language barriers, hire bilingual instructors or translators to serve families whose first language was not English.

New grocery store for St. Norbert

After a waterline break caused St. Norbert’s local grocery store to flood and shut down in 2018, Federated Co-operatives Limited announced earlier this year its plan to build a Co-op brand shop.
On March 12, FCL hosted an open house at the Eagles Club to reveal its plans for a new store and solicit feedback from the community.

FCL plans to construct a 31,111-square-foot Co-op brand grocery store at 3477 Pembina Hwy., where the former Marketplace grocery (and before that Foodland) used to be.
Since the original store closed, St. Norbert residents have been relying on supermarkets such as Sobeys and Superstore, north of the Perimeter Highway, to get their daily staples.

April: Lifters raise major cash for cancer patient

The Midtown Barbell community stepped up to do the heavy lifting for a young girl battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Dave Beakley, co-owner of the Osborne Village gym and fitness facility, hosted a Deadlifts for Dreams fundraising competition on March 30 in support of The Dream Factory and two-year-old Maya Chernichan, raising over $20,000 for the local charity.

Maya was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2018 and has since been through several phases of chemotherapy, which is expected to continue for the next two years or so.

“The idea of kids being sick and not being able to possibly enjoy the same lifestyle as healthy kids, isn’t fair to me,” Beakley said of his involvement with The Dream Factory.

“If you can put whatever strengths you have in place to provide some sort of happy memory for them and take the stress off the family… is what really drew me to it.”

The deadlift competition attracted 25 powerlifters from across Manitoba and North Dakota in a bid to be the strongest participant and biggest fundraiser. Each competitor was required to raise a minimum $200 for the cause but that goal was quickly exceeded. Along with hauling in hefty donations, some competitors were lifting weight in the 700-pound range at the event.
Beakley said Deadlifts for Dreams will become an annual event.

Shaftesbury celebrates 50 years

File photo by Danielle Da Silva City of Winnipeg crews remove damaged tree limbs and toss them in a chipper on Jessie Avenue in Earl Grey. Thousands of trees were damaged during an unprecedented October snow storm that walloped the city over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Shaftesbury High School in the Tuxedo area celebrated its 50th anniversary this May.
The party organizing committee planned a wine and cheese night at the Qualico Family Centre (330 Assiniboine Park Dr.) for May 3.

On May 4, the school opened its doors for a pancake breakfast, open house, and alumni basketball game. There was also an alumni hockey game at the The Rink Training Centre (57 South Landing Dr.),and an anniversary social at  Assiniboia Downs.

May: Anticipation around Valour FC kickoff

Valour FC’s inaugural home game took place  on May 4 against FC Edmonton at Investors Group Field.

Anticipation flooded the city, especially among the team’s support group, Red River Rising.
The match against Edmonton was Valour FC’s second game in the new Canadian Premier League, which has seven professional men’s soccer teams from coast to coast.
The Winnipeg team’s first game was on the road against Pacific FC on May 1.

June: Heritage designation process kicks into high gear

An emergency order stopping demolition crews from tearing down a century-old mansion on Wellington Crescent triggered a lengthy process to designate Crescentwood as a heritage conservation district.

As demolition crews were preparing to level the Gordon House at 514 Wellington Cres., City of Winnipeg planning, property, and development director John Kiernan nominated Crescentwood for HCD consideration on June 6.

The nomination suspended demolition permits at 514 Wellington Cres., and suspended all future demolition or alteration of structures and built features within the working boundaries of the Crescentwood HCD. More than 120 individual properties are included within the boundary.

In late April, City administration identified Crescentwood as a candidate for HCD status in a report to city councillors and said it would continue to explore nominating the area. However, the demolition permit for 514 Wellington, issued shortly after the April report, and the presence of wrecking crews on the lot kicked the process into high gear.

It could take at least two years from the time of nomination to move through the HCD study, plan, and adoption process.

Treaty One building community connections on Kapyong

A day of ceremony and celebration on the former Kapyong barracks served as the first formal introduction between seven First Nations communities and residents in Tuxedo and River Heights.

On June 21, the Treaty One Development Corporation hosted an open house and Indigenous Peoples Day celebration on the abandoned military base. The event saw seven tipis raised on the grounds and a powwow to mark the occasion, along with an information session about the planned urban reserve.

“The whole idea is to engage the people of Winnipeg, the city of Winnipeg, and people that live that live around Kapyong, so they can understand what the plans are going forward and how Treaty One will work towards the release of information,” Long Plain First Nation chief Dennis Meeches said.

In April 2018, seven Treaty 1 First Nations, including Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Long Plain, Peguis First Nation, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Sagkeeng First Nation, Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, and Swan Lake First Nation, signed an agreement in principle with the federal government to purchase 110 acres of the former military base located along Kenaston Boulevard. The communities recently established the Treaty One Development Corporation to lead the effort.  

City removes sick trees

City crews spent a good chunk of the summer removing trees whic had fallen victim to the cottony ash psyllid, or jumping tree lice, and were either dead or near death at the time of the removal.
City of Winnipeg forester Martha Barwinsky told The Sou’wester at original press time that her crews were nearly finished removing 700 black ash, and some green ash, trees from the Riverview and central River Heights neighbourhoods.

The invasive tree lice was first discovered in the Forks area more than two years ago.
According to the province of Manitoba, jumping tree lice lay their eggs in trees which hatch in the spring. The nymphs feed on growing leaves and suck out sap, causing leaves to curl and produce a white “cottony” substance. In July, the adult bugs lay eggs which hatch in August and continue to feed on the curled leaves. Over time, the approximately three-millimetre bugs weaken ash trees making them vulnerable to illness and premature death.

Riverview and central River Heights proved to be an ideal habitat for the insect.

It will be a couple of years before the trees in Riverview and River Heights are replaced, including other tree species that have been impacted by various pests and diseases aside from jumping tree lice.

July: MIA pursues own funeral building

With a growing Islamic community across Winnipeg and Manitoba, the demand for funeral services has increased as well.

The Manitoba Islamic Association broke ground on its own funeral facility (2445 Waverley St.) this year — the first in Manitoba.

Having its own facility will allow the MIA to streamline its funeral services and processes in accordance with Islamic tradition.

File photo by Danielle Da Silva Assiniboine Park Conservancy chief executive officer Margaret Redmond explains features of the new Canada's Diversity Gardens, currently under construction, to APC board member Hartley Richardson during a media tour on Aug. 20. The first of its kind biome in Canada is scheduled to open sometime in 2021.

Local legend McLean appointed to Order of Canada

Big Dave McLean, a local blues musician, caught the ear of Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.
On June 27, Payette announced the 66-year-old’s appointment as a member of the Order of Canada, one of a class of 83 that includes musicians Buffy Sainte-Marie and Garth Hudson and actors Donald Sutherland and Martin Short.

The recognition is one of the highest accolades a Canadian citizen can receive and acknowledges McLean’s mastery of Delta and Chicago blues and his mentorship of Canadian musicians over the course of his career.

“It’s a true honour of course,” McLean said. “I don’t think any of us saw it coming.
“I’m thrilled, honoured, and privileged to have the opportunity to receive this on behalf of the musicians out there who are doing the same thing.”

August: Garden, biome project to open in 2021

Construction is continuing on Canada’s Diversity Gardens, a $97.8-million, 35-acre horticultural exhibit in the southeast corner of the park and The Leaf biome, the centrepiece of the project. The expansive garden and biome project, which has received funding from all three levels of government is currently two years behind schedule and slated to open sometime in 2021.

The new opening timeline was confirmed on Aug. 20 during a media tour of the biome attended by members of APC’s board of directors.

The federal government has contributed $35 million to Canada’s Diversity Gardens, the provincial government has pitched in $15 million, and the City of Winnipeg has put a little more than $13 million into the project.

Cost of admission to The Leaf has yet to be determined, but access to the five outdoor gardens is free. Approximately 200,000 people are expected to visit the new biome in the first year it opens.

September: Southwest Winnipeg favours incumbents

The 42nd provincial general election campaign came to a close on Sept. 10 with few surprises for voters in southwest Winnipeg.

Jon Reyes, PC, was successful in his bid to become MLA for the new electoral division of Waverley.
He managed to earn over half of the voters in Waverley with 3,265 ballots cast in his favour. The NDP’s Dashi Zargani was a distant second with 1,865 votes.

Nearby in the newly drawn constituency of Fort Richmond, incumbent PC MLA Sarah Guillemard held onto her seat, despite a strong challenge from Liberal candidate Tanjit Nagra.

Guillemard won with 42.2 per cent of the vote and 3,241 votes cast in her favour. Nagra earned 2,361 votes, or 30.7 per cent of the vote, a difference of  880.

In Fort Whyte, incumbent MLA and PC leader Brian Pallister easily held on to his seat with 57 per cent of the vote and 5,609 votes. NDP candidate Beatrice Bruske was the runner-up with 1,755 votes.
North in Tuxedo, longtime PC MLA Heather Stefanson was re-elected with 47 per cent of the vote (4,587). Liberal candidate Marc Brandson was the runner-up with 2,225 votes.

PC MLA-elect Janice Morley-Lecomte was re-elected in the newly aligned riding of Seine River. Morley-Lecomte won with 45 per cent of the vote (4,363), followed by Durdana Islam (NDP – 2,513).
Fort Rouge incumbent MLA Wab Kinew held onto the realigned riding, beating out five other contenders.

Kinew, leader of the Manitoba NDP, earned 5,031 votes or 51.1 per cent. The PC’s Edna Nabess was runner up with 1,854 votes.

Redevelopment of Osborne Village Inn passes first test

The developers behind a massive residential mixed-use project in Osborne Village were hoping to revitalize the main strip by turning a piece of land left to waste into a new destination.

Robin Lee, Karl Loepp, and Karen Shanski appeared at City Centre community committee on Sept. 17 to present redevelopment plans for 160 Osborne St., the site of the shuttered Osborne Village Inn; 424 Wardlaw Ave., where the hotel’s beer vendor previously operated; and 425 Wardlaw Ave., a surface parking lot south of the two lots.

Lee, principal at Pre-Con Builders and the applicant for the proposed development, told the committee they plan to build three residential mixed-use buildings with 207 apartment suites across two lots, a total of 54,110 square-feet.

At 160 Osborne St., the apartment block will be six storeys tall and have 189 residential units. The ground floor will be reserved for commercial development, with one or two units for restaurant and retail space proposed on the west side of the building.
At both 425 and 424 Wardlaw Ave., Lee said there will be 59 residential units and “live-work” units on the main level of the four-storey buildings.

To make the development feasible, Lee applied to rezone 424 Wardlaw Ave. from residential multifamily-medium to residential mixed use, and rezone 425 Wardlaw Avenue and 160 Osborne Street from commercial to residential mixed use. Applications for variances, a conditional use, and the closure of the public lane east of 160 Osborne Street between Wardlaw Avenue and the back lane were also required.

City Centre community committee unanimously approved all the applications.

The applications must be approved by city council, and plan approval (which includes design) is subject to the community committee.

File photo by Danielle Da Silva Mary Hall and Christine Skene demonstrate outside of 514 Wellington Cres. in Crescentwood. The stately mansion, over a century old, was threatened with demolition on June 6. The building was saved when the City of Winnipeg director of planning, property, and development nominated Crescentwood as a heritage conservation district, setting a potential two-year process in motion.

Loepp said development activity could begin on site as early as next summer.

October: Federal election outcomes

The 43rd federal election was held on Oct. 21.

Terry Duguid was re-elected as MP for Winnipeg South.

Duguid garnered 20,182 votes, representing 42.1 per cent of the vote, to finish first. The incumbent MP beat Conservative Party candidate Melanie Maher, who finished second with 18,537 votes.

Jim Carr was re-elected to Winnipeg South Centre, shortly before he announced his blood cancer diagnosis.

The 68-year-old politician from Crescentwood said that, after experiencing flu-like symptoms for weeks, he was instructed by his doctor to get routine blood work done.

On the evening of Oct. 21, as election results were coming in across the country, his doctor advised him to go to the Health Sciences Centre on Tuesday for further testing, the result of which was a diagnosis of multiple myeloma.

Carr was re-elected in his home riding with 22,106 votes, or 45.2 per cent. He overcame PC Joyce Bateman, who earned 14,565 votes, or 29.8 per cent.

Guillemard appointed to cabinet

MLA Sarah Guillemard was appointed Minister of Conservation and Climate on Oct. 23 in a cabinet shuffle by Premier Brian Pallister.  

According to the province, the new department will oversee “responsible growth, including the delivery of the made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan, and Efficiency Manitoba,” the new Crown corporation that has replaced the Power Smart program.

The conservation and climate portfolio replaces the sustainable development department, led by Riel MLA Rochelle Squires, who has moved into the municipal relations file.

Parks closed in storm’s aftermath

In mid-October, Winnipeg felt the wrath of Mother Nature, who delivered an early winter storm which caused thousands of power outages across the provinces, road closures, and downed trees.

A grassroots organization committed to outdoor urban recreation spaces planned to petition city councillors for increased funding to the City’s urban forestry division to help recovery efforts following the unseasonable fall snowstorm.

“The crisis of the ice storm is not over. The tree canopy has been severely damaged and we know the significant number of trees that have been damaged,” said Ron Mazur, co-chair of OURS-Winnipeg, a community-based advocacy group focused on greenspaces, river and nature corridors and the urban forest. “Everyone should be stepping up to the plate.

“We think the budget overall has to be enhanced and a priority has to be placed on the forestry budget and the need for immediate action so that we have a city in the future that has a nice green canopy that all can enjoy,” Mazur said.

According to the City of Winnipeg, approximately 10 per cent of all City-owned trees on boulevards and in parks were damaged by the storm  — roughly 30,000. The unprecedented tree damage also forced the City to temporarily close four parks to the public: Crescent Drive Park, King’s Park, St. Vital Park, and Kildonan Park.

Crankie fest held to honour Podolak

The second annual Winnipeg Crankie Festival, organized by Home Routes/Chemin Chez Nous, was held to honour Mitch Podolak, the co-founder of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and West End Cultural Centre and founder of the International Children’s Festival, his numerous contributions to the local music scene and his support for musicians across Canada. The festival ran from Nov. 8 to 10.

Podolak died on Aug. 25, as his son Leonard and the Home Routes team were in the midst of preparations for the second edition of the Winnipeg Crankie Festival.

It was the support Leonard received in the days and weeks  following his father’s death that encouraged him not to cancel the Winnipeg Crankie Festival.

A number of local musicians and organizations climbed on board to support the event at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (525 Wardlaw Ave.). The Winnipeg Folk Festival, West End Cultural Centre, and the church’s Art Fest were presenting sponsors of the festival in Podolak’s honour, and dozens of performers — 59 in all — offered their talents to the event.

November: Sod-turning for library

A new era of book lovers will soon have a modern, accessible space to contemplate literature and learning in River Heights.

File photo by Danielle Da Silva Leonard Podolak is pictured in the office of Home Routes/Chemin Chez Nous holding a portrait of his father, Mitch Podolak. The second annual Winnipeg Crankie Festival honoured the late co-founder of the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Accompanied by three generations of her family, Helen Norrie helped turn the sod on the Bill and Helen Norrie Library, at the corner of Grant Avenue and Cambridge Street, on Oct. 29.

The library is named after Bill, who was a school trustee before being elected to municipal council, and later served as Winnipeg’s mayor from 1979 to 1992, and Helen, a retired school teacher and librarian whose career spanned two decades in the public school system, and served as the honorary campaign chair for the Cornish and St. John’s Library centennial renewal campaign. Bill died in 2012.

The new 14,000-square-foot facility will replace the River Heights Library on Corydon Avenue when it opens in late 2020.

Bringing flowers to dragons

A business founder from University Heights made an appearance on CBC’s Dragons’ Den earlier this year, and the episode aired on Nov. 21.

Catherine Metrycki, a St. Mary’s Academy alumna who studied commerce at the University of British Columbia, is the founder and chief executive officer of Callia Flowers.

The business is an online floral arrangement delivery service.

Metrycki accepted an offer from Dragon’s Den’s Manjit Minhas, a venture capitalist from Calgary, Alta., and co-founder of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries. Minhas offered Metrycki $500,000 for 12.5 per cent of her company.

Dalhousie receives community school designation, funding

One of southwest Winnipeg’s most diverse schools was selected to receive additional funding under a new community school designation.

Dalhousie School, located in Fort Richmond and part of the Pembina Trails School Division, is one of five new schools to be added to the province’s Community Schools Program.

On Nov. 6, the province announced $1.6 million in additional funding for the pre-existing program which currently has 31 schools, serving 8,700 students.

The Community Schools program provides funding to schools to hire a community support worker, according to the province. The support worker facilitates connections between the school and community services to help students and families access the resources they need to be successful in the classroom.

The addition of five new schools to the program, including Victor Mager School, Ruth Hooker School, George Fitton School, and Scott Bateman Middle School, expands the program’s reach to 1,300 more students, the province estimates.

Rapid transit plan presented to committee

The framework for public transit in southwest Winnipeg is about to be reset.
Administrators with Winnipeg Transit presented their plan to increase efficiency, speed, and reduce the number of pass-ups for transit users in the southwest quadrant of the city to the standing policy committee on infrastructure renewal and public works on Nov. 4.

The entire 11.2-kilometre bus rapid transit corridor connecting downtown to the University of Manitoba is expected to come into operation on April 12, 2020, and will be accompanied by a slew of route changes.

Safety enhancements for south Perimeter

As part of the provincial government’s South Perimeter Highway Safety Plan, and in response to a recent fatal collision on the strip of roadway near the Brady Road Resource Management Facility, infrastructure minister Ron Schuler announced temporary safety enhancements for the Perimeter at Brady Road on Nov. 12.

In the morning of Oct. 25, a 19-year-old man from the RM of Rockwood was killed in a multiple vehicle collision on the south Perimeter Highway near Brady Road. RCMP said the victim had been travelling east on the Perimeter and was struck by a semi-truck that was also heading east. The impact caused the car to be pushed into another large truck also heading eastbound on the Perimeter.

December: Parents learn plans for new schools

Plans are underway for a generation of young people to attend brand-new schools in the near future.
Construction on two new schools is set to begin in Winnipeg in the spring of 2020.

The Pembina Trails School Division says the goal is to open in September 2022. The high school and the K-8 elementary school will be built between Kenaston Boulevard and Waverley Street, as part of the Manitoba government’s 2018 budget.

About 70 area residents attended a meeting in November at Acadia Junior High to hear about the proposed plans.

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