Thursday, March 24, 2011

Free Press editorial way off base


For those of you who had the pleasure of reading the Winnipeg Free Press today, there was another editorial about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  I'm fully aware that the Free Press has been one of the CMHR biggest cheerleader, but this editorial is way over the top.  Despite a recent Free Press poll showing that the vast majority  (75%) of Winnipeggers want the museum to be impartial, and include one exhibit which includes all genocides on an equal footing, the editorial goes to great lengths to state the Jewish Holocaust was "unique" and should be the main focus of the museum.

The editorial has to be one of the most condescending articles I have read in quite some time.  It not only attacks the Ukrainian community of Winnipeg, but dismisses the poll stating that "It was one question in a series of unrelated queries that could have asked about favorite breakfast cereals, pizza preferences, and travel plans."  What is even more perplexing is it concludes by saying Why does the Holocaust get a place in the front seat?  Only the uninformed ask questions like that."  

I have no issues with the Holocaust being included in the CMHR.  The persecution of the Jews in World War II was one of the great human tragedies of all time.  However, how does that make it more important than say..the Rwandan, Bosnian, Armenian, and Cambodian genocides just to name a few off the top of my head.  This is Canada, and no ethnic group should have a monopoly on human suffering.  It's a shame that the Winnipeg Free Press editorial division does not share this view.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bipole III nearly doubles in price.




It has been reported that the Bipole 3 project, the new Manitoba Hydro line the government plans to construct along the West side of Lake Winnipeg will cost over $4.1 billion, nearly twice as much as the projected $2.2 billion that Manitoba Hydro and the provincial NDP had told the public.  When pressed for answers, Hydro president and CEO Bob Brennan was more concerned about why someone in his company would leak out this document, than to justify the enormous cost of running Bipole 3 on the West side of Lake Winnipeg.

One of the first blogs to question Hydro's decision nearly a year ago, is the much respected author of  "Anyone Want a Peanut".  If you click on the link, he has an excellent write up on why running the Hydro line on the West Side is a horrible idea, and reeks of political maneuvering, rather than common sense.  Apparently,  the west route is technically inferior to the east route, including the need for additional (expensive) converters, lower line capacity, and greater line losses.

Here is a projected map of Bipole 3:

http://www.hydro.mb.ca/projects/bipoleIII/route_map_full.pdf



What's interesting to note is reliable sources have told me that if the line was built on the East side of Lake Winnipeg, it would only have a width of 66 metres, run parallel (for the most part), to an existing gravel road, and would arguably have less of an environmental impact than if it were to be built on the West Side of the lakes. Finally, let's not forget about the open letter that 19 mainly retired senior professional engineers composed for the Winnipeg Free Press back in December 2010

Here are some of the main points the engineers brought up in regards to Bipole 3 in the article:

  • Of the 10 criteria for designation of the East side of lake Winnipeg as a World Heritage site, nothing precludes carefully positioned roads and transmission lines (many World Heritage sites in Canada, for example in Banff and Jasper, are crossed by transmission lines and main highways)
  • Land owners who will be critically affected by the western route  have raised objections to the government's directive the western route must be followed
  • The directive was apparently made with little or no public input and no reasoned comparison of costs and benefits
  • Environmental studies show a common corridor that includes the road and the Bipole III, is favourable for wildlife. It will also allow access for periodic inspection and maintenance of the line.
  • A 66-metre-wide right-of-way will occupy less than 0.03 per cent (three ten-thousandths) of the projected heritage area
  • With a length of 1,365 kilometres, the West side route is 480 kilometres longer than the East side route, and this is the primary reason for the increase in costs
  • Selection of an east-side route would save a Manitoba family of five around $4,200 compared with the west side
  • The longer line will cause electricity worth about $300 million to be lost in transit, the equivalent of all wind energy generated annually in Manitoba, and equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 40,000 cars.
  • The two routes traverse the same length of boreal forest (about 400 kilometres). In addition, however, the western route also traverses several hundred kilometres of the best agricultural soils in the most favourable agro-climatic zone in the province
  • There are 16 First Nations communities that would be affected by the eastern route and 15 by the western route, essentially the same number (neither route will traverse any aboriginal reserve land)
  • There are technical issues that show a route on the east side of the province provides much higher reliability and protection against risk from wind and ice storms
  • If Bipoles I and II are damaged, the eastern route for Bipole III is twice as effective as the western route for supplying southern Manitoba and the contracted power to the United States
The engineers go on to say that the current NDP government decided Bipole III must run west of the Manitoba lakes and directed the technical staff of Manitoba Hydro to make it happen.  One wonders if the provincial NDP government thinks money grows on trees.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Goldwater Institute to Hulsizer: No Dice!



Well it looks like Hulsizers feeble attempt at saving his bid to purchase the Phoenix Coytoes was more "smoke and mirrors."  The Goldwater Institute saw right through it, and put the ball back in Hulsizer and the City of Glendale's court.  It probably did not help matters much that Hulsizer was quoted to imply that the GWI were  "brain dead."

According to the Arizona Republic newspaper,  the bonds offered by the city of Glendale for Mr. Hulsizer will ultimately cost taxpayers $250-340 million. That figure includes the initial bond offering of $100 million the city plans to issue to help Mr. Hulsizer buy the team, as well as projected interest on that bond. Additionally the city is obligated to pay Mr. Hulsizer $97 million for arena management over 5 years.

Hang on to your hats, Winnipeg hockey fans.  This roller-coaster ride is far from over.



Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sale of Coyotes getting more bizarre with each passing day




Breaking News!

It looks as if Phoenix Coyotes prospective owner Matt Hulsizer has buckled under the pressure from the Goldwater Institute.  The Winnipeg Free Press has claimed that Hulsizer sent a letter to the Goldwater Institute, the taxpayer-watchdog group that has opposed his deal with the City of Glendale from the outset, informing them he’s going to guarantee $75 million of the bond proceeds that the city is fronting him.

I can just assume that if Hulsizer is planning on backing the bonds that need to be sold to keep the NHL club in Arizona, rather than the city itself, it will be easier to sell them on the market.  However, I am no legal expert, so I can just speculate on this.  Needless to say, this sale is seemingly becoming more bizarre each time there is a significant update to the Coyotes situation.

I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this seemingly never ending saga...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gordon Sinclair Jr. and the Winnipeg Police Service




I do not think I need to elaborate on this too much.  Gordon, we all know how much you despise the WPS. However, for the love of God, can you please write your Free Press column for two weeks without trashing the Police?  Is that too much to ask?  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Parking Authority Clueless



I apologize if this blog will sound purely negative, but sometimes it baffles the mind the way the city operates.  For decades, they have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars, in order to attract people to the downtown core.  We built Portage Place Mall, the MTS Centre, the Manitoba Hydro building, and much much more.  All in an effort to lure people back to downtown.

Then the Winnipeg Parking Authority decides that the people who have returned to the City Centre need to pay more to park downtown.  This is counter-productive to what the city has been trying to do for decades.  Of course mayor Sam Katz, and most of City Council think it's a great idea (no surprise there).  It almost boggles the mind.  Just take a look at what Downtown Biz head Stefano Grande had to say in today's edition of the Winnipeg Free Press about the fee increase.

If the City of Winnipeg really wanted to increase parking revenue, why not install metres along the Osborne Village, Corydon Avenue and Little Italy?  I'm sure it would not deter people from packing the area, especially in summer.  Of course, that is where the people in Winnipeg with money like to spend their time.  Of course, Katz would not dare try and make the citizens of Winnipeg that are the most well off financially, spend a few extra dollars while they dine in their favorite Italian restaurant. And as we all know, Katz would never step on the toes of those who got him elected in the first place.

So leave it to the bureaucracy of Winnipeg to ruin any momentum downtown Winnipeg has, just to milk a few thousand dollars from the people they have been trying to entice to return to shop, visit, and live in the core area.   Then again, with the mayor's handling of the Bus Rapid Transit corridor, should I really be all that surprised?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NHL: Goldwater Institute officially suing the City of Glendale over Coyotes Sale



It's official.

The Goldwater Institute, the independent Arizona government watchdog, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Glendale over the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer.  The Goldwater Institute claims the agreement violates two prohibitions of the Arizona Constitution, which requires that no Arizona government “shall ever give or loan its credit in aid of, or make any donation or grant, by subsidy or otherwise, to any individual, association, or corporation. . .” To read more about the Goldwater lawsuit, click here.

Among other things, the Goldwater Institute claims that the Phoenix Coyotes are "perennial money losers", and pose an enormous risk to the taxpayers of the Arizona city.  This could very well be the beginning of the end for NHL hockey in Arizona.

In other news, Dave Wheeler, columnist for the Winnipeg Sun claims that if the NHL returns to Winnipeg, the Jets name will not be used.  He claims to have "inside information" that a name, jersey, and logo have already been designed and are ready to go for when the NHL returns to Winnipeg.  I cannot say that I am the biggest fan of the name change, but I guess beggars can't be choosers.





Exclusive video of Gary Bettman reacting  to the news of the lawsuit. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Downtown Revitalization: The Avenue Building (265 Portage Ave)




While I was passing through downtown, I decided to check out the progress being made on renovating the Avenue Building on 265 Portage Ave, just west of Portage and Main.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how the future residential building is shaping up. As you may or may not know, it was announced last summer that the long abandoned building would be turned into residential units.

I can still remember going into the Avenue building when I was a teenager in the mid 90's.  I was honestly surprised it had not been condemned, due to the dust and mold of the unkempt building.  There may have been a couple of tenants inside the multiple story building at the time.  Soon afterward, Dominion News, the last tenant of the Avenue, moved across Portage, leaving the building completely vacant.

This is great news for the city.  I always thought the key to downtown revitalization was to build more residential units downtown, making the core area more vibrant.  Hopefully this is just the beginning, as I would also love to see the St.Charles Hotel turned into residential suites.  It's also nice to see the Downtown Red River Campus renovating the Union Bank Tower.

Viability of an NHL team in Winnipeg



In case you missed it, Winnipeg's own Scott Oake was on Hockey Night in Canada discussing the economic viability of an NHL team in the city.  It was a great segment, and breaks down the revenue that would be created from a Winnipeg based NHL team.  It makes a very strong argument that the city could easily support an NHL team, if one were to relocate here.

Special thanks to JHendrix70 for placing this up on youtube.

Do NOT trust the Orange Rod when it comes to the NHL



Just a warning to all people who follow blogs in Winnipeg.  The Orange Rod has spread inaccurate and unfounded information about the return of the NHL to Winnipeg.  I have nothing personal against the creator of the Orange Rod, but she has been wrong in all her posts about the possible return of the NHL to the City of Winnipeg.

On January 29, she announced that the NHL have definite plans to expand by 4 teams for the 2013-14 season. The Orange Rod had stated that the NHL plans to announce the expansion in June, and that a group from Las Vegas, Nevada is ready (or has been awarded) by the NHL an expansion team.  There is no credible evidence whatsoever that the NHL is:

  1. Planning to expand anytime soon
  2. Placing a team in Las Vegas
Then on March 3, the Orange Rod announces that the NHL has given the Phoneix Coyotes until March 7 to complete the bond sales.  One can assume that the Orange Blog was hinting that this was the deadline for the sale to be completed, or the  NHL would follow through on the backup plan to move the team to Winnipeg.  However, March 7 came and went.  No sources. No deadline.  Nothing.

Finally, on March 9, the Orange Rod announced that "it is over in Glendale, no question".  The Orange Rod goes on to say that the announcement will come before the "end of April" that the NHL will return to Winnipeg.  

All three of these proclamations by the Orange Rod Blog have come with no sources whatsoever.  When I pressed her for sources, she refused to reply.  If you are wanting to know the latest details on the return of the NHL to Winnipeg, read the Free Press, Globe & Mail, National Post, TSN, etc. Click on Jetsowner.com, skyscraperpage.com, hfboards.com, etc.  However, steer clear from the Orange Rod.  She is feeding us a bunch of lies.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Financial Irregularities discovered in Band Audit


Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation chief Terry nelson is in hot water, after an audit disclosed several financial irregularities, including a $2.1 million investment for his daughter's business, and spending Christmas bonuses on the band council.  The audit, authorized by Indian and Northern Affairs at the request of the community's custom council, examined the band's finances for a seven-year period, from 2002/03 to 2008/09.

The auditor's assessment of the band's finances stated: "Poor management of funds and incomplete financial accounting; a number of unexplained anomalies."  Some of the interesting findings of the audit (as reported by the Winnipeg Free Press) include:

  • $2.1 million of the community's trust funds was invested in a private gas bar and VLT lounge, known as the Highway 6 project, owned by Terry Nelson's daughter.
  • $250,000 was removed in 2005 from an account designated to finance an urban reserve in Winnipeg; the money was used to purchase Christmas gifts, cover the chief's travel expenses and provide $2,500 Christmas bonuses to the chief and council.
  • The band ran a surplus between 2003 and 2005 when its finances were controlled by a federally appointed co-manager.
  • The band accumulated a deficit of $1.5 million from 2006 to 2008, when managed by chief and council.
  • $567,000 in loans/advances to six current and former employees that are not recorded in the financial statements as receivables.
  • $191,000 provided by Ottawa to the band to restore the church and cemetery but the church has since been condemned and the cemetery has not been moved.
  • The band's education account had surpluses for six of the seven years.
  • Social assistance account is in a deficit position.
Does any of this really surprise us?  Terry Nelson is the same guy who blames the "man" when he does not get what he wants.  As reported earlier in the Purple Rod, he has also advocated blockades to secure outstanding grievances against the Government.  Nelson's comment on the matter was not surprising.

"This audit is released seven days before an election," Nelson said. "Of course it was done to hurt me. I'm not an accountant, I'm the chief," Nelson said. "There's not enough time in the day for me to do everything that needs to be done."

Ya right.

This is the same guy who wants to establish an urban reserve on the old  Kapoyng Barracks, perhaps the most sought after real estate in the City of Winnipeg.  Good luck with that, Terry.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Winnipeg 2010 vs Winnipeg 1994



I came across some interesting statistics about how much Winnipeg has changed since 1994, when the Jets were still in existence.  Special thanks to the Globe and Mail for publishing these figures.


Population:
1994: 676,000
2010: 753,000
Average house value:
1994: $84,000 (Canadian average $158,000)
2009: $227,000 (Canadian average $340,000)
Total value of building permits issued:
1994: $300-million
2009: $1.1-billion
Housing starts:
1994: 972
2010: 3,200
Average household income:
1994: $43,000 (Canadian average $49,000)
2010: $72,000 (Canadian average $70,500)
Unemployment rate
1994: 10.4% (Canadian average 9.5%)
2010: 4.9% (Canadian average 8.1%) (best in Canada)
Total employment
1994: 318,000
2010: 425,000
Retail sales:
1994: $4.3-billion
2010: $9.8-billion
GDP per capita
1994: $21,100 (Canada $26,700)
2009: $37,500 (Canada $39,000)
Personal disposable income per capita:
1994: $17,700
2010: $29,900
Difference: +170% increase
NHL average ticket Prices:
1994: $34
2010: $49
Difference: +140% increase
Corporate head offices, companies of all sizes:
Edmonton: 157
Winnipeg: 129
Ottawa: 101
Corporate head offices, total employment:
Winnipeg: 6,890
Ottawa: 4,667
Edmonton: 3,428
Canada's 800 largest corporations:
Winnipeg: 32 plus three 3 subsidiaries = 35
Edmonton: 25 plus one subsidiary = 26
Quebec City: 16 plus two subsidiaries = 18
Ottawa: 15 plus one subsidiary = 16
I never realized the City of Winnipeg had come so far in the last 16 years.  Quite the contrast, when you consider average house price, housing starts, building permits issued, unemployment rate, average household income, retail sales, disposable income,  and Gross Domestic Product.
Additionally, we complete with much larger cities (Edmonton and Ottawa), when it comes to large corporations and head offices (total employment and company size).  From these figures, you can make a strong argument that Winnipeg would easily support an NHL team.

Bettman heads to Arizona, Hulsizer's offer "final."





Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly are in Glendale, Arizona today, presumingly doing all they can to save the Coyotes deal with Hulsizer.  This is truly a last ditch effort to keep the team in Arizona, despite sparse crowds, losing millions of dollars, and a slumping local economy.


Since the NHL bought the Coyotes a year ago, the club has lost in the neighborhood of  $30 million.  One wonders how much patience the NHL has left, regarding this seemingly never ending saga.  Meanwhile Hulsizer has gone on record saying his offer to buy the club is "final", and he will not accept a compromise from the NHL or the City of Glendale.


It will certainly be interesting to see what transpires in the coming days.  It has been reported that the Coyotes, the NHL, and the City of Glendale want to renegotiate the contract with Hulsizer, asking him to accept a reworked deal, with possible changes including: the City of Glendale reducing the amount it contributes through a bond sale, from $100 million to $70 million; the NHL reducing its $170-million asking price for the franchise; and Hulsizer increasing his contribution from its initial $70 million.


Meanwhile, the Goldwater Institute has stated that any meetings between the institute and the City of Glendale would have to be held publicly with members of the media invited as stipulated by CEO Darcy Olsen in a letter issued on Monday.  I will publish further updates when they become available.



It's just a matter of time...



The gong show in Arizona continues.  It appears the City of Glendale, where the Phoenix Coyotes play, is contemplating a lawsuit against the Goldwater Institute, an independent government watchdog for devaluing the price of bonds.  It appears the negative publicity has scared away many potential investors.

In response to the legal threat, the Goldwater Institute, in more words or less, told the Coyotes and the City of Glendale to go fuck themselves.  The prospect of the NHL returning to Winnipeg has never looked better. All we can do is sit and wait patiently.  It's not a question of "if", but "when" our beloved Jets return.  I'll be celebrating at Portage and Main when the inevitable announcement is made.

For more on the "Gongdale Show" click on the video below:


Monday, March 7, 2011

To Marty Gold: Get on with life.


For those of you who happen to be following some of Winnipeg's more popular blogs, you will know that Marty Gold, host of the Great Canadian Talk Show, was removed from Red River College station Kick-FM unceremoniously, late last year.  It was a controversial decision by the new RRC president Stepthanie Forsyth.

Now I do not agree with how you were removed from the station, and it was likely very unfair.  However, I have advice I must give to you:  "Get Over It!"  Is it worth blogging about how you were victimized over and over again for the last 4 months?  There have been greater tragedies in life.

Shit happens.  It's life.  Get back on your feet, dust yourself off, and get another job at a different talk radio station.  Constantly moaning about how you were wronged just makes you look bad.  It's also not good for your mental health to dwell on it obsessively.  

Enjoy life Marty, and good luck with future endeavors.   I just ask you to move on.  It's over.  

The new YFC Centre on Higgins and Main


The new Youth for Christ centre on the Northwest corner of Higgins Avenue and Main Street is going up fast.  This centre will give inner city youth the chance to play sports and get away from some of the negative influences of the inner city.  It may even be ready by fall.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the funding of this youth recreation centre.  Many were opposed to giving the YFC any public funding whatsoever.  I never understood this.  They may be a Christian organization, but what is wrong with that?

Look around the city.  The Siloam Mission, the Salvation Army, the Grace and St.Boniface Hospitals, and all Winnipeg YMCA's are Christian based.  These types of centres are hardly run by people with a "hidden agenda" to steal your soul.

Besides, look at where it is going to be built.  Residents from Winnipeg's poorest neighborhoods will have full access to the facilities.  Point Douglas, Central, the North End, Elmwood, etc.  This rec centre will give people, especially youth the chance to stay away from gangs, crime, and other temptations that plague the inner city.  I can only see positive things coming from the YFC building in the future.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The empty lot near Portage and Main





You would think that with the metro Winnipeg area topping 750,000 this year, a record low vacancy rate, and construction everywhere that someone would have shown the initiative to fill in this embarrassment just north of the 201 Portage Tower (formerly known as Canwest Building).  I wish Manitoba Hydro had went through with their original proposal for a 40(?) story tower at this very location.

It looks horrible.  On the east side of Main Street, you will see turn of the century buildings, just north of the Richardson Building.  On this side you have a nightclub that was forced to close it's doors a couple of years back due to shady activity.  Walk another 1/2 block, and come across yet another parking lot.   Then you hit the Woodbine Hotel, which is one of the last sleazy bars in the exchange.

It's time for developers to get off their ass and build something here.  Just look at the Union Tower.  In a year or two, it can be the home of hundreds of Red River College students.  With many lofts and condos springing up, it will only be a matter of time before someone takes a keen interest in what I refer to as "Winnipeg's shame".

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Media enabling Charlie Sheen


Charlie Sheen, star of the gigantic CBS hit Two and a Half Men has spiraled out of control.  His recent escapades have ended the run of the #1 sitcom in America.  Hearing him rant about wanting a raise to return to the set of the popular TV show is a little baffling, to say the least.

However, why give Sheen a platform to mount, when he is this troubled?  It's obvious that his drug and alcohol problems have spun out of control.  Watching him not is equivalent of witnessing a train wreck.  The media are having a field day with this.

It's sad really.  Sheen needs to get help ASAP if he does not want to follow in the footsteps of Chris Farley, John Belushi, Corey Haim,  Anna Nicole Smith, and others who have died much too young.  It's a shame the media are sensationalizing this.  Sheen is not in a sound mental state of mind.  The best thing Hollywood can do is to cut ties with him, until he has achieved a respectable measure of sobriety.

I see nothing amusing about Sheen's problems.  It's never fun to watch a person self destruct, regardless if he is a celebrity.