23 Feb

Winnipeg 311: The Wrong Answer

This past Saturday, I was out past the east Perimeter Highway and upon my return, I noticed the “Welcome to Winnipeg” sign on Fermor just west of the overpass at Plessis Road.

The sign had been dislodged at the middle bracket holding the two halves of the leftmost metal pole. The top half was hanging precariously on the lower half and only the broken bracket was preventing it from falling over completely.
I stopped to take a couple of pictures.

I suspected that a large truck with a heavy load probably grazed it pulling away from the shoulder and that the driver may have not even been aware that anything had happened.
This dangling sign is obviously a potential safety hazard, being so close to a busy highway. As a responsible citizen, I reported what I had seen via e-mail to the 311 service. I also attached the same pictures as shown above.
Having used the 311 service previously with positive results, I expected that the proper department would be notified and I would receive a reply thanking me for reporting it.
As they say in the Hertz commercials, “Not exactly.”
I did receive a reply from 311, but it wasn’t the reply I expected:
“Thank you for your email. I can certainly advise the correct department of the issue with the “Welcome to Winnipeg” sign, however they do require a contact telephone number is order to submit a report. Please respond at your earliest convenience and we will pass your information along to the department.”
I was dumbfounded.
Having been advised of the safety hazard, they would not take a report until I had provided a contact telephone number.
Wrong answer.
I thought about indulging the bureaucrat and providing my phone number, but, that too, would be wrong. A matter such as this needs to be forwarded to the proper department right away.
What did they need my number for anyways? Did they expect me to fix the sign? Did they think I was making it up?
Instead, I forwarded the correspondence to my councillor. His assistant replied promptly and assured me that the issue would be forwarded to the proper department for attention and apologized.
As a good friend and former colleague told me upon reading this story, “It’s hard being a good citizen, isn’t it?”
And it shouldn’t be.
20 Feb

Selinger’s Saloon

This morning, I went out to check out the construction progress of Manitoba’s largest tavern going up on the campus of the University of Manitoba. Though I do not partake in alcoholic beverages, I did want to see this palatial outdoor saloon that every Manitoban, including me, is paying dearly for.

I appreciate Comrade Selinger’s concern for the welfare of the brewery industry, but I wasn’t aware that, despite the troubled economic times around the world, that beer sales had taken any sort of nosedive that necessitated such extreme government intervention to the tune of $200 million to build a place for Manitobans to drink while being loosely entertained by taxpayer-subsidized minor-league football.
Heading south on University Crescent, you can see the roof on the east side towering over the trees even before you get to the golf course.

Looking south from the corner of University Crescent and Sifton Road.

From the looks of it, drunks seated on the east side won’t get any rain or snow in their beer thanks to that covering. You’re welcome.

The west side stands are also taking shape.

The outside façade on the east side.

Looking north from Chancellor Matheson Road.

Looking west from Chancellor Matheson Road.

There you have it: the developing edifice that should be called Selinger’s Saloon. It’s only too bad that it wasn’t built somewhere else like Regina instead of Winnipeg.

12 Feb

Winnipeg Transit Introduces the Eco-Ram

Winnipeg Transit announced that it will begin selling a new, environmentally-friendly battering ram for the convenience of riders who frequently board the so-called “Easy Access” line of buses in Transit’s fleet.

“A constant complaint we hear from our riders is how difficult it is to get out through the back door on our Easy Access buses,” said a Transit spokesman. “We are at last pleased to be able to offer some relief to those riders.”
Filled with 100% recyclable material, the devices, called the Eco-Ram, will be made available for general sale as well as at a discount as part of the employer-sponsored Eco-Pass program.
Winnipeg Transit’s new Eco-Ram

“When riders leave for work in the morning, they’ll just have an extra item to sling over their shoulders. They will be lightweight, yet effective. Our testing has shown that, with a good thrust, it can dislodge as many as three or even four stragglers standing in front of the back door and with another thrust, it can force open even the stickiest door in our fleet,” said the Transit spokesman.

“This just shows how Transit is responding to the needs of their customers. Though we introduced the Easy Access line to accommodate the 0.001% of Transit riders who found our old line troublesome, the remaining 99.999% deserve some attention once in a while. I couldn’t be happier to see the Eco-Ram introduced”, said a spokesman for Mayor Sam Katz. “It’s a tribute to Transit’s ingenuity and another reason why I’m so proud to live in this city.”
Reactions from Transit’s rider community were mixed.
“I think it’s great. I might be able to start using Transit again thanks to the Eco-Ram,” said one former Transit rider. “Since they put in that Easy Access bus, the frustration just hasn’t been worth it. I’d rather be out on my bike in -30º weather.”
“Might have to put some spikes on that thing. Wonder if they’ll start selling stun-guns to go along with it,” said a current Transit rider. “Right now, I have to ring the bell three stops ahead of time and hope that I can get off without having to walk too far back by the time I get through the mob in front of the back door.”
“We admit that it’s not a perfect solution. But when you’re an organization like ours that caters to the need of a few over the need of the many, tradeoffs like this are going to be necessary,” said the Transit spokesman.
The Eco-Rams will be on sale shortly at Transit’s Customer Service Center in Winnipeg Square and plans are in the works for additional distribution sites, such as drug stores and convenience stores.