Winnipeg is no longer the city it used to be - it's better

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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The mosquito is no longer the official bird of Winnipeg thanks to new spray program

On my visit to Winnipeg this week, I realized how much I actually love this city. I grew up here, so you can consider my perspective as somewhat biased, but I really do love what Winnipeg has become.

In my youth, the downtown core was a bland place to work as almost everyone vacated after 4:30 pm. That is, unless you planned to head back to the downtown to frequent a bar or movie theatre.

Today, the city is much more alive and has developed a number of good reasons why downtown Winnipeg is the place to be. However, what has surprised me is how this revival is taking place through a mix of both private and public funds.

Take for example the investment by CanWest Global in the relatively new baseball stadium which is in the shadow of the city’s three major skyscrapers and its employees. On a warm summer day, you can finish work at 5pm and in a matter of minutes be heading down to the home of the Manitoba Goldeyes for some pretty good baseball. The view from the stadium is awesome.

A stone’s throw from the stadium is the Forks historic site. Once a home to several flocks of pigeons, rail cars, warehouses and the occasional homeless person, this piece of land is slowly transforming into a very unique tourist attraction. The Feds deserve a lot of credit for making the necessary investments needed to help kick start the revitalization of this property which is at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.

During the winter, the old warehouses are now filled with locals coming to buy produce from the market. Outside, a large area is converted into a very nice outdoor skating rink with ice quality that rivals some of the best anywhere in the world. The rink is basically an extension of a very lengthy and well-used skating route located on both of the frozen rivers.

In the summer, the Forks really shines – literally. Winnipeg’s numerous sunny and mild days in June, July and August make the Forks site a real hub of activity both on and off the water. You actually see numerous powerboats, and pleasure craft making their way up and down the rivers now, something I never saw growing up there.

Now some of you might be asking about that pesky old problem Winnipeg has regarding those killer sized mosquitoes. I am pleased to report that most of that problem is now history due to the City undertaking a new mosquito eradication program. It is similar to what other prairie cities have successfully been doing for years, and it has significantly reduced the problem. Unfortunately for Winnipeg, the image of mosquito city still lingers like a smelly can of bug repellent.

The Federal Government is also investing heavily in a new Museum of Human Rights that is being constructed at the Forks. Once completed, the building will not only be an architectural icon, it will serve as a place for everyone to reflect on the importance of how the human race treats each other.

If you like hockey, which is kind of a silly question if you’re Canadian, Winnipeg has now constructed the new MTS Centre arena downtown. It’s simply a beautiful facility and has helped to generate a lot of economic activity for local bars, restaurants and pubs on game and concert nights.

So as you can see, the little City of Winnipeg is not doing so badly for itself. A new baseball field. A new hockey arena. A new Museum. A new tourist icon. And now there is word they will be getting a brand new football stadium as well.

I beg you to look at any other major city in Canada and see if this type of activity is happening. You will be hard pressed.

Vancouver is getting a new (kind of new) soccer stadium (permitting the outcome of the provincial election). Edmonton is contemplating a new area (kind of ). But nowhere else can you find this type of infrastructure happening in a city the size of Winnipeg.

Throw in the fact you can still purchase a home in the most tony of neighbourhoods for under $500K, the schools are great, traffic jams are non-existent and the economy is steady as she goes, and you can see why Winnipeg undergoing a revival of sorts.

I will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of my move out of Winnipeg to Vancouver this month. What I left behind is most certainly what I have come back to this week. So here’s to you Winnipeg, you're a great city and keep doing what you’re doing.

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