Author Archives: donaldstreet

What I Saw

Credit: Wayne Glowacki, Winnipeg Free Press

Credit: Wayne Glowacki, Winnipeg Free Press

I was a witness to the hatchet attack on Donald Street yesterday, just outside my apartment.

Here’s what I recall:

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Hatchet Attack in Downtown

A middle-aged credit union employee was allegedly attacked by a young woman wielding a hatchet outside her office, according to witness accounts.

The woman was walking metres away from her office around 8:30 a.m. when she was allegedly approached by a group of young women, including one youth with a hatchet.

Bystanders quickly intervened and the woman fought off her attackers but sustained injuries to her head.

I was one of those bystanders, though only the third on the scene. The first person to respond did an incredible job of taking control and she should be commended. I have to embarrassingly say that I didn’t even realize what was happening just down the street from me until I saw the other two get involved. The second person to jump in should be commended as well. He jumped in even though he was only driving by – many many cars passed by without stopping.
I’m sitting in my apartment office and looking out the window at the scene of the attempted armed robbery after spending the day at Educational PD sessions during which I heard from the incredible Strini Reddy who spoke about these kind of youths, the responsibility of the community, and the responsibility of the Education system – and how we can work to break the cycle of violence, poverty, and crime.

I’ll have to process things a bit more and then comment later. Maybe I’ll go make dinner for now.

PS: This puts Jamie’s comments on Walk-Score into perspective.

UPDATE: I will try in the next few days to give you all a full account of what I saw and did. But, for now, there is little time tonight as I’m creating a Logarithm and Exponent Test. So, I haven’t been able to write a complete piece about the incident. For the moment, I’m thinking about Sir/Saint Thomas More’s book Utopia in which he describes the effects of the death penalty for theft – noting that England killed tons of thieves and yet they continued to exist in bigger numbers. How can this be? As it turns out, More postulates, if society is structured in such a way as to produce thieves then it produces them regardless of deterrents. So, the answer is to analyse and address root causes instead of proximal causes. Since More, we have made some progress. The correlaries of violent robberies committed by young offenders are now known – violence at home, broken homes, alcoholism, FAS, FAE, drug abuse, abusive parents, poverty, and any many more. While we know this, we have not done enough to fix the problems and have (acidentally or not) done some things to extend them (such as residential schools).

At the same time, none of the above justifies the actions of the girls involved. They deserve consequences which fit their crimes. But, we also need to invest in preventing the creation of future hatchet-wielding teens. And, we need to invest – for now – in police presence in the communities and on the streets. There is no panacea. But, long-term investment in OUR children, Winnipeg’s children, will reduce violence and crime.

Finally, we need to honor the victim who courageously resisted the assault and the two bystanders who jumped in to help save her.

Uniter We Stand

I was at the Fyxx today and picked up The Uniter, the U of W students’ newspaper. (paper copy here) Wow. The difference in quality between this paper and The Manitoban was striking. Cudos to the U of W for an excellent paper.

The Manitoban leaves so much to be desired. Here’s hoping that a change of Editor and the shock of losing two funding referenda will help push the Manitoban to self-reflection and a new vision. They could learn a lot from the Uniter, with strong writing, good research and positive vision. Instead of running a series on “What Wrong With Downtown Winnipeg?” while showing photos of the worst it has to offer – the Uniter looks towards the positive and to planning for a better downtown. Sure, it shares history of failed projects, but generally tends to be future looking and positive about the possibilities. Contrast this with the Manitoban’s series “What’s Wrong With Our University?” which focussed on the negative, showed photos of the worst of campus, and degraded every positive effort and the difference is incredible. It’s embarassing to read The Manitoban every week.

Obviously, I was biased by the fact that this is the Annual Urban Issue and had article after article after op-ed after op-ed on downtown Winnipeg, density, urban planning, and all the rest. Still, great work being done there. Conrats Uniter editors, writers, and volunteers!


This is a great little website to rank walkability of neighborhoods. I tried my own apartment building and got:


That means that I am living in a “Walker’s Paradise”. I checked out Transcona – where my parents and in-laws live – and discouvered that they were both living in “Car Dependent” neighborhoods. No shock there, but a great re-affirmation for me.

Try this out, its fun.

Silos in Blogs

The Caisse Pop is not a social development agency. They can’t just “take one for the team” because urbanist bloggers would like them to.

The Caisse is “owned” by its customers who are residents in the area. Do the residents in the area want to promote Provencher as a new walking area that will bring people in from the rest of the city? Do the residents want their credit union to do harm to the recent gains on that strip? Do they want to differentiate their neighborhood and attract tourists crossing the foot bridge from the Forks? Or, do they not care at all about what their own credit union does to their neighborhood?

Obviously, if the public demanded that the Caisse ensure that their new building conform to the new style on Provencher so as to promote local business and development and build a strong central area, the Caisse would do so.

The above thinking is pure silo mentality. When we reward managers, leaders, and politicians for decisions that fail to consider the wider community, then decisions will fail to consider the wider community – often, with bad consequences.

H/T: Policy Frog and Rise and Sprawl.

Fire at U of M, campus evacuated

Photo Credit: David Lipnowski, Winnipeg Free Press

Photo Credit: David Lipnowski, Winnipeg Free Press

This doesn’t look great. The top floor above the fire house offices from my wife’s faculty of Human Ecology and her office is in that brick building three floors above the firefighters. Let’s hope that nobody was sleeping in the building (including in the grad student offices) and that everyone got out.

The nearby Residence that was evacuated at 2pm must be University College, where I lived for three years. I hope that everyone got out ok there as well and that there are adequate facilities for them today. The rest of campus is being evacuated right now because of the hazardous materials in the labs in the Duff Roblin building (the one on fire). That means that thousands of residence students are now out of their homes. Hopefully, everything is worked out soon enough so that they can all return before night.

Is anyone out there affected by this? Any new news?

UPDATE (4:02pm): CBC now reports that the fire was brought under control “about two hours” after the initial arrival of fire crews. That means that it was stopped just after 2:00pm. But, campus was being entirely evacuated at 3pm according the FreeP. I guess details will emerge later.

UPDATE (4:02:30pm): Free Press also confirms fire is under control. But, they also note that “emergency officials are evacuating the Fort Garry campus due to concerns about chemicals inside the building.” I hope that all turns out to be ok and those hundreds of residence students can return home soon.

UPDATE (4:45pm): The latest version from the Free Press has the fire in the past tense and says that only the area within a kilometer of the building was evacuated, not the whole campus. (But, 1km would be most anyways) Things must be quickly coming under control now and I’m sure that we’ll learn more about the story in the next few days. Since this is now under control, I’m going to stop updating and just wish everyone who works in the building well, both in terms of safety and their projects that were interrupted.

UPDATE: (5:11pm): I just spoke with Sid Rashid, the incoming UMSU president. He went to U College and they were not evacuated. St. John’s residence was temporarily evacuated, but U College never was. That’s well within 1km of the scene, so the media definitely did not have the best info. Co-chairs at U College indicated that all is well and that tonight’s social events are continuing as planned.

Love in the time of flooding

Just handed out permission forms to my high school class so that they can sandbag. It’s bringing back memories of 1997, when I was in grade 11 at College Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau in exotic Transcona. Filling sandbags at the arena was when I started going out with a new girlfriend who just happens to now be my wife.

Ah, memories of floods. How very Manitoban.