West Winnipeg — Looking back at 2022
January: Walking in a Wolseley Winter Wonderland
Wolseley residents such as Michael Bennett, Christopher Beauvilain and others worked together to create a vibrant and accessible multi-use space on the Assiniboine River. What began as a river trail grew to include ski trails, public skating and curling rinks, fire pits and warming circles made from used Christmas trees.
“It’s blossomed so much,” Bennett said. “It’s really alive, from first thing in the morning to late at night.”
The Wolseley Winter Wonderland began at Omand’s Creek in the west and stretched to Canora Street in the east, bolstered by a $5,000 GoFundMe campaign from the previous year and a grant of roughly $2,000 from Coun. Cindy Gilroy’s (Daniel McIntyre) office to flood the trail.
Council strikes down sale of John Blumberg Golf Course
On Thurs., Jan. 27, city council voted 13-3 against the sale of the John Blumberg Golf course, rejecting a bid of $13.7 million from Schinkel Properties, which proposed a development including 339 single-family lots, 327 multi-family units, 13 acres of commercial space, 36 acres of non-continuous parks and 13,000 feet of walking trails.
The bid met with opposition every step of the way, as two committees voted to reject the bid as it made its way to a final vote, and greenspace advocates rallied against the proposal.
Then-Headingley mayor John Mauseth also opposed the bid, saying: “…our focus was on greenspace and retaining it for the long term…”
The golf course, which is located in Headingley but is owned by the City of Winnipeg, remains on the auction block, as it has been declared “surplus” since 2013.
February: Little Red Library makes triumphant return
A beloved community fixture rose from the ashes and was rebuilt in its original location at Hugo Park off Wellington Crescent, after being destroyed by arson in May of the previous year.
Storefront Manitoba, a not-for-profit design organization co-founded by the Little Red Library’s designing architect, the late David Penner, spearheaded the structure’s refurbishment with residents helping bring it back to life.
“It needed repair, anyway, and it turned into a good thing,” Storefront Manitoba board member Chris Wiebe told a crowd of community members at the Little Red Library’s re-opening on Feb. 5.
Between resident donations and a land dedication reserve fund grant from Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry councillor Sherri Rollins, the refurbishment campaign raised just over $11,000 to re-establish the library.
“We really appreciate the outpouring of support from the community, and we’ve really learned how well-loved it is, and that’s very rewarding,” Wiebe said.
Mobile pierogi shop opens storefront
Pierogi makers Lorraine and David Pfeffer opened a bricks-and-mortar shop at 833 Cavalier Dr. on Feb. 8, after experiencing booming sales of their handmade pierogies under the name of West End Pierogies.
Having a home base was a welcome change for the couple, but the Pfeffers continued delivering to a slew of communities outside the city, from St. Francois-Xavier to Elie to Gimli.
“It’s been overwhelming. Everyone’s been so amazing,” Lorraine said.
Lorraine and David chalked up their success to doing everything by hand.
“People always say, ‘It’s just like my baba used to make,’” David said. “It makes you feel good. You’re doing something right if it brings back a memory from their childhood.”
March: Artisan raises nearly $50K for Ukraine
Zoya Kostetsky, a Ukrainian-Canadian and owner of local jewelry business Prairie Clay, raised nearly $50,000 for humanitarian aid, after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.
One sleepless night, Kostetsky stayed up thinking of ways she could help. Knowing she had a decent following on her Prairie Clay Instagram account — more than 5,000 people and counting — she began reaching out to other local artisans to see if they would donate prizes for a fundraising raffle.
Over 200 hundred businesses agreed to take part in Kostetsky’s efforts. Within the first day, Kostetsky had raised over $500, and the number kept rising.
“Then it was $10,000, then $20,000,” she said. “People are injured, people are displaced. I’m sending money as it comes. They need it now, not a week from now.”
Aside from money, Kostetsky also organized care packages that she sent to Ukraine.
April: Wolseley residents address sewage overflow
The Wolseley Residents’ Association held a series of community events addressing sewage overflow in the neighbourhood.
The association’s first meeting took place on April 20 and included a panel discussion followed by a community input session on combined sewer systems and what other cities are doing to tackle the issue.
“It’s been an issue that’s been brewing for quite some time,” said Michelle Richard, Wolseley Residents’ Association chair of housing and urban development committee.
The meetings were in response to a major sewage spill at the end of March, which dumped more than 78 million litres of diluted sewage into the Assiniboine River
The wastewater mixed with snow melt was released into the river when a temporary sewage pump — in use while the city replaced a Portage Avenue interceptor sewer pipe — was unable to keep up with the flow. As a result, diluted sewage was released between March 16 and March 25. It was the largest overflow incident in at least five years.
May: Overland flooding soaks municipalities
After a winter of record snowfalls, municipalities outside of Winnipeg found themselves dealing with widespread flooding. While the rural municipalities in the Free Press Community Review West’s coverage area — including Headingley, Rosser, Macdonald, and Cartier — didn’t see the same level of devastation as some areas south of the city, many residents still struggled with the flooding.
“It’s been horrible. I didn’t really think we were going to get that affected by the storm because our houses are built slightly higher,” Headingley and Dodds Road resident Sally Mann said.
Mann said her basement ended up under five inches of water and mud, while outside waters submerged the street and her backyard completely.
“I can’t say that I’ve ever seen it quite this bad,” then-Headingley mayor John Mauseth, who also lived on Dodds Road, said.
In Macdonald and Rosser, crews cleared ditches and culverts and provided sandbags to residents. In Cartier, there was widespread overland flooding, but minimal property damage, despite the declaration of a local state of emergency, which the other municipalities had also declared.
West Kildonan Library relocation plans incite protests
In May, a city report recommended moving West Kildonan Library from the 13,960-square-foot building it had occupied since 1967 to a 14,962-square-foot space at Garden City Shopping Centre.
The costs of renovating the space at the shopping centre was expected to total more than $2 million, and rent for the shopping centre location would run the city $217,000 per year for the first five years and $232,000 per year for the latter half of the 10-year lease. The report estimated the city could recoup about $1 million in the sale of the West Kildonan Library building.
However, residents of Garden City and West Kildonan rallied against the proposed relocation, culminating in a protest led by Daniel Guenther, Steve Snyder and Evan Krosney of the newly formed coalition, Friends of West Kildonan Library. Approximately 150 people showed up to the Jefferson Avenue library on May 17 to protest.
“This is purely about cutting and trying to offload our city services and trying to offload public assets … These are purely real estate decisions and not library decisions,” Guenther said.
On May 18, the relocation was struck down in a unanimous vote in an executive policy committee meeting at city hall. On May 26, the matter was officially put to rest after a council vote.
June: St. Norbert Arts Centre celebrates three decades, history of site
On June 19, the St. Norbert Arts Centre hosted an outdoor Father Day’s brunch to mark three decades of serving the community through arts programming. There were presentations, entertainment, a guided tour and the launch of the newly named Vision of Women Gallery.
The centre also celebrated the long history of the St. Norbert Monastery, on which grounds the centre makes its home.
The original St. Norbert monastery was built in 1892 after Father Joseph-Noël Ritchot, the priest of St. Norbert parish, persuaded the abbot of Bellefontaine, France, to establish a home for Trappist monks in St. Norbert. Monks arrived at the site in 1892, and the first monastery building, a three-storey wooden structure on a stone foundation with a chapel, porch and bell tower, was completed shortly after.
After the monks relocated, a fire tore through the site and destroyed the monastery. A group of local residents hoping to preserve the site emerged from the ashes and, by 1980, they had secured historic building designation for what was left of the monastery.
In 1988, as a result of the efforts of non-profit organization Heritage St. Norbert Inc., the provincial government designated the guest house and surrounding land as a heritage site. The guest house was partially renovated and the St. Norbert Arts Centre took occupancy in the early 1990s.
Jazz teacher applauded on national stage
Westwood Collegiate band instructor Greg Edwards was named the year’s winner of the Tommy Banks/NAC Orchestra outstanding jazz director award, presented annually by MusicFest Canada – The Nationals festival, in partnership with the National Art Centre.
“I wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for some pretty amazing people in my life,” Edwards said.
Edwards credited an old teacher for making an exception and allowing him into jazz band without the usual prerequisites.
“He said ‘yes’ … He made me fall in love with jazz music. I really fell in love after that,” Edwards said. “We went to a couple of music festivals and ended up winning a scholarship to Idaho State University. It just sort of got me going.”
During his career, Edwards led the Westwood program to four European tours, including a headlining spot at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
July: St. James marks centennial following pandemic delays
St. James residents made up for lost time when they celebrated the area’s 100th anniversary by painting a mural honouring the milestone. The centennial arrived in 2021, but the celebration was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The mural, located at 1741 Portage Ave., spotlights the history, culture and attractions that make St. James unique. It spells out the neighbourhood’s name, with each letter designed to look like a vignette from a postcard. For example, the ‘T’ in St. James illustrates the neighbourhood’s old farmsteads, including an oxcart trail and the historical museum.
Artists Jen Mosienko and Morgan Biggs painted the mural.
Food scientist wins lifetime achievement award
River Heights resident and food scientist Michael Eskin was recognized with the Institute of Food Technologists’ 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award in Honor of Nicolas Appert, a major award in the field.
Eskin was part of a team at the University of Manitoba in the late 1960s and early ‘70s that modified rapeseed to create canola, which has since become Manitoba’s main agricultural export, now bringing in over $2 billion per year into the province.
Eskin has also written 17 books on food science, including one of the first textbooks on the biochemistry of natural foods, which has become a standard reference.
City breaks ground on active transit corridor
On July 22, the city broke ground on the first phase of a new, multi-use active transportation path west of McPhillips Street.
When finished, the path will run 2.4 kilometres between Leila Avenue and Church Avenue, and will be 4.5 metres wide with benches, lighting and controlled crossings for pedestrians and cyclists at Leila Avenue, Inkster Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue.
“It’s been a long time coming, so it’s really good to see it moving forward,” said Mark Cohoe, executive director of Bike Winnipeg, whose input contributed to the project. “This is potentially a really important link for the northwest.”
The project’s first phase comes with a price tag of just over $2.5 million, paid in part through a grant from the province and Trails Manitoba of $450,000.
August: Osborne Village pilot project gets underway
A harm reduction and social support pilot project launched in Osborne Village, led by the SABE Peace Walkers, a community group first created to support Indigenous, BIPOC and marginalized demographics on the strip of Main Street near Thunderbird House.
During the 17-week pilot project, the group offered aid to people who are unhoused, facing addictions and affected by mental health challenges in the Osborne Village area.
The SABE Peace Walkers were trained in non-violent crisis intervention, administering naloxone (which can reverse the effects of opioid overdose), first aid and CPR, several harm reduction strategies, and Indigenous healing practices.
“It speaks to the intentions of Osborne Village. They really want to do things in a different and progressive way,” said SABE Peace Walkers co-founder Daniel Hidalgo. Hidalgo started the group with Riley Nepinak, who founded community group Anishiative, and longtime St. Vital resident Mitch Bourbonniere, a founding member of Bear Clan Patrol.
The program received $77,000 through Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries’ Social Responsibility Program.
September: WSO rings in 75th season with a flourish
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra celebrated its 75th anniversary when it kicked off its 2022-23 season with a concert by Brandon-born-and-raised violin star James Ehnes on Sept. 17.
Daniel Raiskin, music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, took the opportunity to reflect on the beauty of the orchestra.
“It’s a fantastic example of how many different things can really work in harmony. If you took a double bass and a piccolo, you couldn’t help but see the differences, and yet these two instruments play together in the greatest harmony and enjoy each other’s company,” he said.
Angela Birdsell, WSO’s executive director, said there’s something special about seeing symphonic music live.
“It’s such a difficult concept to describe in words. You won’t really know about it until you experience it, but it’s very visceral. There’s almost a physicality to hearing and seeing the music live,” she said.
October: Velma’s House receives major funding
The federal government dedicated approximately $6.9 million to support Velma’s House through 2025-26. Velma’s House is a safe space for Indigenous women, gender-diverse people, and women in danger of violence and exploitation, including sex trafficking. The space offers access to traditional medicines, hot meals, hygiene and harm reduction supplies, and social support services.
The funding positioned Ka Ni Kanichihk to secure a larger home for the Velma’s House program, and to increase the number of people it can help nearly tenfold.
Whereas its original space limited the program to supporting seven women at once, Velma’s House will now be able to serve up to 60 people at a time.
The funding included $930,000 to provide emergency relief, $2 million to the purchase of the new building, and $1 million each year for four years, ending in 2026, to support the space’s operational expenses and furnishing costs.
Manitoba holds municipal elections
Manitoba held municipal elections during which former St. James councillor Scott Gillingham became mayor of Winnipeg, beating out Glen Murray and former Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood councillor Kevin Klein, among other hopefuls.
Shawn Dobson returned to council, taking up the seat vacated by Gillingham in St. James. Dobson had lost out to Gillingham in the 2018 municipal elections.
Evan Duncan became the sole rookie on council when he won the seat Klein left open in Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood. All other west Winnipeg councillors were re-elected.
Several rural municipalities lacked nominated candidates to support a vote, leading to a handful of acclamations around the province. Headingley mayor Jim Robson and the entire council for the rural municipality of Portage la Prairie (separate from the City of Portage la Prairie), among others, were acclaimed.
November: Sleepy Owl Bread awakens
West End bakery Sleepy Owl Bread re-opened on Nov. 22 at 7 a.m. at its original 751 Wall St. home following its closure in May.
The bakery opened under new ownership — Diversity Food Services, a social enterprise at which Sleepy Owl Bread’s founders Joanne Toupin and Beau Burton worked before opening the bakery in 2013.
Despite the new ownership, the bakery maintained its distinct flavours, as Toupin and Burton offered up their signature recipes and trained the new manager, Michel Saltel, in his starter and lamination techniques.
The re-opening came as the West End mourned the loss of Kub Bread, an institution in the area for 99 years.
December: Westwood fundraiser helps local charities
Westwood couple Blaine Wall, 76, and his partner, Val Ruth, 74, used recycled wooden pallets to build festive wooden snowmen.
The couple was hoping to surpass its fundraising total from the previous year of $7,600, which was spread between the North End Women’s Centre, Agape Table, Siloam Mission, Good Bear Cancer for Kids, Willow Place, 1JustCity, the Christmas Cheer Board, Ikwe-Widdjiitiwin Shelter and Ronald McDonald House Manitoba Chapter.
The snowmen were constructed out of repurposed wood from pallets, painted and adorned scarves. It takes about three hours to make one, and early on, the couple had already sold over 300 at a minimum $30 donation.
“This morning, we had 12 people out there all at once,” Wall said. “I started this in August, and some days I was working eight, nine hours a day in the sunlight because it was warm outside. It’s been over-the-top this year.”
Norwest turns 50
NorWest Co-op Community Health celebrated its 50th birthday with a video series highlighting its members, clients and decades of achievement.
Each video was one to one-and-a-half minutes long and featured personal accounts, many from the perspective of NorWest Co-op Community Health clients, about how the organization has made a positive impact on their lives.
“To hear people talk about the impact of their involvement with NorWest was just so heartwarming … To see the impact we’ve made on our community in 50 years,” said Nancy Heinrichs, executive director of NorWest Co-op Community Health.
There are currently nine branches of NorWest Co-op Community Health, with another bricks-and-mortar centre set to open on Notre Dame Avenue in the new year.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 204-697-7206.
Katlyn Streilein was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review.
Kelsey James was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review in 2021 and 2022.