An Ode

So it was a pretty big day for downtown Winnipeg yesterday when the province and city announced a large tax incentive program to help developers create more downtown housing. I know that a lot of people have been working for a long time to make this happen, and it was definitely one to break out the champagne for.

But it’s too bad that positive news had to be marred by the usual naysayers who apparently never saw Bambi where they should have learned the old adage, “if you can’t say anything nice…” I was reading the comments on the Free Press website and this one in particular stood out to me:

Posted by: formerwpg
March 25, 2010 at 12:08 PM

Who the heck would want to live in smelly, dirty, noisey, unsafe/crime ridden downtown Winnipeg??!! Don’t quite understand this.

By their user name, one can only presume this person doesn’t live in Winnipeg anymore, and I’d say good riddance. This guy/gal is clearly that person we all know who moved to Vancouver and now thinks they’re better than everyone else. You know who I’m talking about. Every Facebook status they write now says something like “so glad I left that horrible place” or something along those lines. They ask you when you’re “coming to the west coast to visit” and you really just want to say “never, when are you coming to Winnipeg? Get over yourself.”

Although this person doesn’t live here anymore, sadly, there are plenty of Winnipeggers that still think this way. In my experience, it’s the people who never actually come downtown that are the most vocal about how bad it is. You’d have to be pretty much blind not to see the changes that have happened in the last 5-10 years. The MTS Centre, Central Park, condo developments, restaurants etc. Change is happening, but it can’t happen overnight.

Think about the things you’ve tried to accomplish in your life–say losing 10 lbs, getting a new job, finding your soulmate. Did you manage to achieve any of those things in a day? No, of course not. You had to work at it, and sometimes you failed and had setbacks, so you went at it differently the next time. Now compound that effort with people telling you you’re still too fat, you’re too dumb to get a new job or too ugly to get a date. That is the exact same thing feeling the people who are trying to improve downtown get when they hear nothing but negative comments.

Do you think the people in charge don’t see the same things you do? Of course they do. They experience the same frustrations about poverty, crime, cleanliness and parking that you do, but at least they’re doing something about it. What are you doing other than complaining?

So to those people who leave, and those are still here but haven’t taken the time to see what downtown is becoming, I’ll thank you to keep your negative comments to yourself. This is my home and I happen to love it here.

6 thoughts on “An Ode

  1. Nice rant and all too true. I am not originally from Winnipeg and have in fact only lived here for 3 years, but I love it. I have lived in many cities around the world and honestly think Winnipeg has a great balance of city,suburb and rural, plenty of social activities without the rat-race, and accessibility and proximity without traffic congestion.

    Every village, town and city in the world has it’s down sides, but no city becomes great by focusing on those. In my opinion, Winnipeg is heading in the right direction and with people like Peggy cheer-leading the city and its downtown area, good things will happen.

  2. I agree Matt & Peggy! Winnipeg in general needs a bit of a self-esteem workshop. We are a really great city but until everyone acknowledges that, it’s difficult to get ahead. Like the saying goes, you have to love yourself first, then everything else falls into line.

  3. Hey Peggy — I’m FROM Vancouver (3 yrs in April) and I couldn’t agree with you more! I started a blog (http://iloveolivebits.blogspot.com/) to combat the whole “Winterpeg” negativity thing. I’ve written a series of “Love Letters” to Winnipeg. But I really agree with Isabelle that lifelong Peggers need a self-esteem workshop. Another friend (from Quebec City) who relocated here said Winnipeg has so many opportunities just waiting to be had, but people are too busy wallowing in the pity party of the past. You have the AMAZING Exchange District downtown, an incredibly vibrant and ACCESSIBLE arts scene, and great old neighbourhoods (I live in Wolseley). I’m hoping the big infusion of active transportation cash really puts on us on the map with respect to being an excellent cycling city. Lots of good stuff…just need the citizens behind it. I read Bartley Kives’ article about bringing more people d/twn and thought it was excellent. No more discount stores d/twn — more PEOPLE. That will build vibrancy and great local shops will follow!

  4. I love Winnipeg, and greatly appreciate our vibrant and homegrown arts community, of which downtown is an important element! I, for one, would LOVE to live downtown though have been unable to find low-cost rental housing there. Who wouldn’t love to live in a building ripe with the character and history of yesteryear.

  5. For me, it’s not about shops. It’s about community and simple living…both of which are and can continue to be alive and well downtown

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