Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Winnipeg a Living City

I recently watched an interesting documentary this weekend on CBC called Living City: A Critical Guide. It was hosted by Christopher Hume, a provocative urban critic and columnist for the Toronto Star. In the special, he travels by train from Halifax to Vancouver, stopping at all the major cities, highlighting the projects and passionate people who will shape urban life in Canada in the coming decade. Hume also gives the viewer a firsthand look at what's wrong with Canada's aging infrastructure, failing mass transportation and overall lack of political will.

Of course being a Winnipegger, I was most interested as the train neared my home town. Before heading into the commercial break leading into the part about Winnipeg, Hume says this "I want to see what happens when a city dreams, but its ambitions falter." Needless to say this statement got me quite worked up - I couldn't help but agree to some level - though I refuse to be defined by this statement.

Hume goes on to talk about how Winnipeg business and the economy were booming in the late 1800's - a time when we were known as the "Chicago of the North." We were leaders in transportation and infrastucture, supported by our geographic location. When Hume arrives he stands outside the doors of the VIA Rail depot, and upon staring at our downtown asks "where is everybody?"

The piece was quite negative in its view of Winnipeg, but was factual. The positive aspect of the documentary was the review of the new MB Hydro Building, and the leadership role they are taking in Energy Engineering.

I don't want to spoil the documentary for those that want to watch the special online. For any Winnipegger or Winnipeg business, it truly is a must see. A piece that should motivate and guide the way we think about urban development in the decades ahead.

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