Originally Posted by biguc
Moving along, since I forgot I had a point to add to the negative side: downtown retail. It sucks. It's worse than it was ten years ago.
It's hard to slam the city too severely for this because some of downtown's former retail bread and butter doesn't really exist any more. Going downtown to record stores, for example, used to be the shit. Now, there's no such thing as record stores in the first place, but there especially aren't record stores downtown because there are no stores downtown. And here's where I slam someone for that: Centreventure can go fuck themselves. They've spent the last ten years fucking around small businesses so they can play developer. Main street was starting to catch on with retail until CV decided to build ugly office buildings, to name the worst example.
You raise a good point regarding retail. It has gotten worse over the past decade. As I've said before, downtown retail more or less became terminal once Eaton's closed down. Since then it has been a long, slow fade to black. A decade ago I could still do the bulk of my Christmas shopping downtown, but with more shops closing and The Bay shrinking each year, I can't do that anymore.
To tell you the truth I have basically written off any hopes for downtown retail. Winnipeg exists in that weird no-man's-land where we're too big to have our major retail concentrated in one downtown location (like in Regina and Saskatoon) but too small to support thriving downtown retail AND the suburban malls and power centres (which is the case in basically every Canadian city larger than ours). Centreventure tried to breathe some life into downtown retail about 10-15 years ago by attracting some big names like Staples, A&B Sound and MEC, but it really hasn't made much of a difference.
In my opinion, downtown retail's descent is a symptom of continued sprawl left unchecked (not just in terms residential development... this includes allowing any developer to put up big boxes whenever they want).
Originally Posted by Andy6
I wonder what we were talking about at that first forum 'meet' at Portage Place ... can't have been much but I recollect that it was all at a high level of earnestness. I think we would have been impressed with what has happened to downtown Winnipeg in the ensuing 12 years when it came to buildings but maybe not so much in terms of the feel of the streets, which can still be pretty empty and desperate compared to other Canadian cities. On the other hand, I do remember feeling like some sort of brave urban explorer in those days when I'd do my photo shoots in areas like the East Exchange ... not that way anymore.
It feels as though things have improved to some extent when you consider Winnipeg ca. 2014 vs. Winnipeg ca. 2002. But when you consider whether we have kept pace with other cities, my answer would be no. We have fallen behind to a considerable extent. Urban living has become very common for 20 and 30 somethings in other Canadian cities... not so much here. It is still very much a niche market in Winnipeg. Even though there are new residential buildings being built and in the planning stages, it's still a trifle in comparison to what is going on in a city like Edmonton, which has a downtown that is roughly comparable to Winnipeg's in size and scale. Even a smaller city like Halifax looks like it's experiencing far greater growth. For whatever reason it seems as though Winnipeggers cannot be persuaded to live and work downtown unless there is some sort of publicly funded incentive in it for them.