After years of praying, Winnipegers are finally getting their cherished IKEA store
In my frequent visits back home to the Prairies, I hear one universal complaint about something Vancouver has that Winnipeg doesn't. Is it the lush green mountains on the north shore? Is it our proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Is it our coveted Stanley Park? The answer is 'no' to all of the above. The main complaint is that Vancouver has an IKEA and the Peg doesn't.
Okay, technically speaking, Vancouver doesn't actually have an IKEA either. The only two IKEA locations in the region happen to be located in Coquitlam and Richmond. In fact, big-box averse Vancouver didn't even have a Walmart until about a month or so ago.
Now word comes out of Winnipeg that there are plans afoot to contruct a massive new IKEA store just south of the tony Tuxedo neighbourhood. In the midst of a recession, plans to build a new $400 million complex paid for solely by private interests was something Winnipeg Council couldn't turn down. Truth be told, there actually were a few tax dollars at play.
The Province and City of Winnipeg are prepared to kick in $22 million bucks to help secure the deal. There funds will be used to improve local infrstructure.
His worship Mayor Katz put the $22 million investment into perspective for taxpayers when he told the Winnipeg Free Press:
"If you don't see the opportunity, I will be happy to pay for the optometrist"
The local ward Councillor succinctly stated:
"If we don't go through with this, we'll be the laughingstock of North America"
I recall visiting a good friend of mine a few years back and she had an IKEA catalogue on her living room side table. I asked her why she had a catalogue when the nearest IKEA was a thousand miles away.
She proceeded to tell me she was one of IKEA's biggest online shoppers...but bemoaned the fact she had to fly to Vancouver to get the "real" experience. I haven't spoken to her in a while, but I'm pretty confident she would be thrilled by IKEAs decision to move to Winnipeg.
So at the end of the day, it would appear that Winnipeg will actually get an IKEA before Vancouver (proper) does. Now there's something for Winnipegers to laugh about!
The Free Press also provided a great summary of events for Winnipeg's last marathon Council meeting, I thought you all might find it of interest. In particular, take note of the reference to campaign finance reform.
Major pieces of legislation passed during Wednesday's nearly eight-hour city council meeting:
IKEA PROJECT: Council voted 14-2 to turn 80 hectares of industrial land south of Tuxedo into mixed-use land, paving the way for a $400-million big-box development anchored by an IKEA store. Councillors Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge) and Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) opposed.
ROADSIDE MEMORIALS: Council voted unanimously to create a one-year limit on roadside memorials as part of new bylaw governing placement, composition and duration of the markers.
PARK POLICE: A plan to cut the number of park police in Winnipeg to seven from 14 and hire youth ambassadors to pick up the slack was defeated on the floor of council in a 7-7 deadlock.
CAMPAIGN FINANCES: St. Boniface Coun. Dan Vandal's plan to ban corporate and union donations to council candidates was defeated 11-5. Vandal, Gerbasi, Lillian Thomas (Elmwood), Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) and John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) voted in favour.
GARBAGE DAY: Council voted 8-6 to change the name of Garbage Day to Recycling Day to encourage more Winnipeggers to use blue boxes. Gerbasi, Smith, Thomas, Vandal, Russ Wyatt (Transcona) and Harry Lazarenko (Mynarski) voted in opposition.
FEE INCREASES: Council voted unanimously in favour of increased dog-license fees and higher parking-lot rates, parkade rates and fines for parking too long in a one- or two-hour zone.