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Why open Portage and Main? How to take a fabulous family holiday
Dorothy Dobbie A
s long as the barriers remain up at Portage and Main, Winnipeg can count itself as a second- class city where fear prevails and hope festers. Those ugly gray barriers are reminiscent of another
era when politicians thought they could force people to change their behaviour – it was the same kind of thinking that created the downtown dead-zone, Por- tage Place, which was to bring people to the city center away from the suburban malls that this kind of thinking had created in the first place. This thinking was exemplified by the “brutalist” style
of architecture that was applied at the Winnipeg police station in the sixties. It was cold and bleak, windowless and alienating.
It is also the kind of thinking that created in the sev-
enties, the heavy, forbidding skywalks across our once sunny street, driving pedestrians indoors and street-side businesses into bankruptcy. When the barriers were erected, it was to satisfy an
out-of-town developer who then abandoned us, reneg- ing on his promise to build a second tower at Graham and Main, a job that is just now being done some thirty years later. It had nothing to do with traffic demands, although that argument was later presented to support the bad decision. Back then, the streets were still teem- ing with people on Portage Avenue. If you could get them to all go underground, the thinking was, you’d be able to support the merchants who were being enticed to move their retail shops and cafes to the mall. It didn’t work out that way. All that the barriers and later the Portage Place Mall and its skywalks did was to drive people indoors, off the streets and eventually away from downtown completely. The only people
Former Sun CEO campaigning on crutches
harleswood Tuxedo West- wood candidate for city council, Kevin Klein, is out on the hustings, door knocking on crutches. “I was in excruciating pain,” said Klein, who has since learned that his campaigning has exacerbated a previously unknown, bone-on-bone issue in his hip. Rest is the only answer for now, his doc-
tor told him, but Klein told him that he would have to learn to man- age on crutches. “Right now, the most important thing is to meet as many people as I can,” he said. “This election means a lot. I feel I have a job to do for the people of this ward and I am determined to put myself in a place to do it.”
u 7 'Kevin Klein'
who shop in the underground mall are those who work in the adjacent high rises and the odd tourist staying at the Fairmont Hotel, and even they are frequently disap- pointed to learn that nothing is open after five, anyway. As for the skywalks, a product of the same era, Win- nipeg was copying Minneapolis, which is now wonder- ing how to deal with the nightmare network they cre- ated. Nor is Minneapolis is alone. “Across this country, a debate is growing over what to do with the cozy corridors, bridges, and tunnels that
u 7 ‘Portage and Main' Dorothy Dobbie
ral. Even when you do get together for a family dinner, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to simply connect.
The other big question is about gifts. Teenage and millennial children have plenty of everything and their tastes change with the wind. Daughters and sons and their spouses can be just as prob- lematic.
The simple answer? Take a family vacation together and pay for it with the money you all would have spent on buying gifts. We opened a joint Tangerine account on the In- ternet and each birthday and Christmas, we con- tribute to the account. Up until this year, we have continued giving gifts to the teenage and millen- nial kids, but now it is agreed that half the usual gift expenditure will go into a travel account for the older ones because their parents don’t want to pay the air fare anymore. We still buy small gifts for each holiday so that
there is the fun of opening presents, but the bulk of the budget goes to the joint account. Every two or three years, we tally up the total and find that there is more than enough to pay for a pretty fancy villa somewhere in the world. This year it was Italy, where we rented a 10-bedroom villa in Umbria that used to be a retreat for high officials of the Catholic Church. It sat high on a hill overlooking olive orchards in a gated estate that included a private gym and a swimming pool. It was within driving distance of Florence and not overly far from Pompeii. The nearby village of Chiusi was lovely and well served by decent su- permarkets. Last time, we went to Costa Rica, with similar arrangements. Next time, we plan to go to the Azores.
When we do these holidays, we take turns pair- ing up to cook for each other, showing off our
u 8 'Vacations'
s the grandchildren grow up and take on busy lives, it gets harder to have that qual- ity family time that used to seem so natu-
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