Winnipeg Skyline

Sunday, February 4, 2007


David Asper’s proposal for the stadium, Lloyd Axworthy's plans for the University of Winnipeg and CentreVenture’s proposals for Portage Ave are a refreshing breath of optimism about Winnipeg’s future. We don’t have enough dreamers and dreams for Winnipeg’s future.

The City of Winnipeg Planning Department long ago gave up this important job. In the 1960s Chief City planner Earl Levin actually dared to dream about downtown, offering the 1969 Downtown Winnipeg Plan which spawned a variety of projects like the Convention Centre, a hotel and office buildings.

In the late 1980s and into the mid 1990’s a volunteer group called the Urban Idea Centre came together to offer ideas but its polite members seemed reluctant to speak publicly with vision and determination. We also had various still-born city plans like Centre Plan which were heavy on consultation but devoid of action.

We need an Urban Idea Centre or a city think tank more than ever. We need to see the Planning Department once again become a generator of ideas. We need the Real Estate Board and its members talking possibilities. We need a broad section of Winnipeggers to conspire for Winnipeg’s future and dream and advocate publicly. We need to identify problem areas and undeveloped lands like the old meat packing site and come up with possibilities and sell proposed uses for them. We need to rediscover the spirit of optimism we had 100 years ago when Winnipeg’s citizens were planning for their children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

And it could start online. People could post ideas and dreams and the like to get some debate going. Let’s start a site which we could call “winnipegdreams.com.” And perhaps the Free Press could offer a weekly column for Winnipeg Dreamers.

But as we have seen in the last decade it takes a business person to get the ball rolling. We need business and private individuals to take action. So let’s hear from more such people about what they would like to see done.


dl said...

Yes, Winnipeg needs dreamers. It also needs citizens to believe in those dreams. Our local media, for the most part, would rather concentrate on the controversy those dreams might generate.

City officials are more concerned about limiting the allotment of green space in various parts of the city just in case a few potential tax dollars might be foregone that new green space is not likely to happen.

Winnipeg is too small and too big at the same time. It is caught in the middle and doesn't know what it wants to be and only a few seem able to take their vision and try to move one way or the other.

James A Jaworski said...
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James A Jaworski said...

George, a couple of years ago I transcribed Metro's Downtown Winnipeg Plan from 1969... You can find it at:


And near the bottom of the list, find Downtown Winnipeg.

This year I plan on putting more effort into publishing more Metro documents like this.

I agree with that we need more dreamers in Winnipeg... We do have some. It is a matter of the politicians and planners following-up on good plans.

James A Jaworski said...
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Anonymous said...

Winnipeg has an urban think tank, www.truwinnipeg.org

If you're looking to dream, think of the Wilson Subway plan. Earl Levin basically destroyed the neighbourhood between Portage and Broadway when the city built the hideous Convention Centre and Lakeview Square, tore out the trees, one-wayed the streets, and allowed for the wholesale demolition of small residential buildings.

As for a newspaper column by urban dreamers, Dallas Hansen and Robert Galston, not to mention Val Werier, have been writing for years. The ideas are out there; they're just being ignored.

william garbacz said...

It's been over 30 years since I lived in Winnipeg, and I've always remember the good times of growing up in the north end. After watching these videos I felt very sad and tears ran down my cheeks. My memories faded and my past was now a horrific site. What happened?

Watch these videos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZqfB6DdZPs