A Little Birdie Told Us


Tweets reveal what you really want for Winnipeg in 2012
Winnipeg Free Press
By: Lindsey Wiebe

David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press Archives
Graham Avenue, leading to the home of the Jets, the MTS Centre. Some tweeters would like to see the avenue turned into a permanent pedestrian mall called — what else? — The Runway.

You want a safer city. A cleaner city. A city that’s more pedestrian-friendly, more downtown-dense, more neighbourly, better known for its hockey victories than its homicide record.

And while you’re at it, you’d like people to be more positive about the Winnipeg we have, and gripe less about the Winnipeg we don’t.

To mark the New Year, we asked Winnipeggers, including some of the city’s active bloggers and pundits, to share their wishes for 2012 via social media: what they want, and expect, to happen to their city over the next 12 months.

The responses ran the gamut, though some trends did emerge in the deluge of comments — nearly 200 tweets and retweets marked with the #wpg2012 hashtag at last count, plus a lively comment thread on our Facebook page.

Sustainable transportation was one of the most-mentioned topics: calls for action on rapid transit, better cycling infrastructure, a boost in bus ridership, and pleas for understanding between those driving on two wheels and those on four.

“An expanded rapid transit system. Mixed-income, mixed-use development. Acceptance of cyclists on the road,” wrote James Johnston (@conscious_state).
Concerns for Winnipeg’s rising homicide count were on the minds of some: “To no longer be known as the murder capital of Canada,” wrote Diane DeMar√© via Facebook.

“I want a murder rate in the single digits,” tweeted Shaun M. Wheeler (@conceitedjerk). Incidentally, the rate has not been less than 10 in nearly four decades, if not longer — police records get harder to search pre-1975.

For many, downtown was key: more housing and better infrastructure, fewer surface parking lots and more amenities for cyclists. “Not just numbers that tell me that downtown is more liveable: actually FEELING like downtown is more livable,” wrote Danny Wood (@dannyjameswood).

There were a few subtle and not-so-subtle jabs regarding the city’s approach to development: “I want a Mayor, CAO, and developers who vacation in Portland, not Phoenix, wrote Rob Galston (@riseandsprawl).

And there were some specific ideas for how the city could be made better: a pedestrianized Albert Street (a discussion that’s percolated for years in Winnipeg), new development on downtown’s biggest parking lots, or synchronized traffic lights (already in the works, albeit behind schedule).

One of the most popular ideas came via Adam Masi (@amasi99), who suggested converting Graham Avenue from The Bay to the MTS Centre into a pedestrian corridor with pubs and cafes. A name for Winnipeg’s new pedestrian mall? The Runway, of course.

The idea found some traction with Downtown BIZ director Stefano Grande, who tweeted his approval: “Graham Mall is a jewel in the rough that would be ideal for more restaurants and pubs!!!”

For some, the best gift the new year could bring would be a bit more optimism about Winnipeg as it is.

“Some people are so miserable with our city. Id like to see them leave :),” wrote Nicole Smith via Facebook.

“Winnipeg’s #1 resolution sb to stop being so negative. The city has lots to offer,” wrote Shannon Sampert (@pauly_sigh).