A Place to Keep Warm

Above: Winnipeggers wait for rides inside one of the heated bus shelters at Portage Place. -JBU

If you’re like me and living in Winnipeg right now, you’re probably already sick of being cold. And it’s only November. Ugh.

But chances are if you’re reading this, you’re lucky enough to be somewhere warm, cozied up to a smartphone or computer.

Chances are you’re not nearly as cold as some of Winnipeg’s homeless who are preparing to sleep on the street tonight.

My journalism class is taking on a new project called Newsroom Wars where we split up into two competing news outlets and produce multimedia content on Mondays. My group’s news outlet, The Spectator (you can follow us on Twitter–shameless plug), worked on a story yesterday about whether Winnipeg’s homeless people should be allowed to sleep on buses or in bus shacks when it’s freezing cold.

I was surprised how many people were against the idea for various reasons, among them:

  • They’re scared of homeless people.
  • They’re scared of pan handlers.
  • They’re scared of having to wake someone up on the bus because it might be awkward.
  • They’re scared of not having enough space on the bus during rush hour if homeless people were to sleep there.

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Lest We Forget

Above: Hundreds of poppies were stuck into the Winnipeg Cenotaph on Memorial Boulevard today after Remembrance Day ceremonies. The Cenotaph was unveiled in 1928 as a monument to those killed in the Second World War (1939-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953). -JBU

This isn’t a post about buses. It’s a post about something more important: Remembrance Day.

As my friend Matt Cheung eloquently put on his blog,

“Today is a day to put away the politics and rhetoric. There are 364 other days of the year to debate whether a conflict is just or not. The men and women who serve don’t ask for conflicts to start, but they put their lives on the line regardless and are worthy of respect from each and every one of us.”

As a kid, I loved Remembrance Day because it fell on the day after my birthday and meant I got an inservice as a perpetual post-birthday gift. (I still love it for that reason.)  Continue reading

When was the last time you rode the bus? (Round two)

Remember the time I did a blog post about the mayoral candidates and said I’d post about the council candidates later that night?

No, me neither.

But if you are wondering what council candidates have to say about transit, I talked to a few of them during ElectionFest on Sept. 22.

I asked all of them:

When was the last time you rode the bus?

(And a few follow-up questions.) Continue reading

When was the last time you rode the bus?

I thought it was a simple question, but it stumped a lot of politicians.

On Monday night, Metro Winnipeg hosted a meet and greet with mayoral, council and school trustee candidates called ElectionFest. The RBC Convention Centre hosted a bustling crowd that seemed primarily middle-aged (30-40ish). But some 20-something friends–Adriana, Cella, Marc–and I got in on the election action, too.

I’ve wondered for awhile just how in touch with riding transit the mayoral and council candidates are. And I appreciated Richard Cloutier from CJOB asking the question to five of the mayoral candidates at a downtown debate on Sept. 10:

When was the last time you rode the bus?

How can a candidate be in tune with transit riders’ needs if he or she doesn’t regularly hop on a bus? Personally, I don’t think a candidate should be trusted to vote on issues concerning BRT at city hall if they haven’t already tested Winnipeg’s currently lackluster BRT system. Continue reading

The Anniversary

Thirteen years ago today, a tragedy in the United States shook the world over.

A year ago today, I asked people about it.

This is a bittersweet anniversary for me, commemorating the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and the first year of Transit Talks.

Since 9/11, I feel like living in fear has become much more socially acceptable, at least in North America. In Canada, we love to socialize with strangers on the Internet, but hate to talk to them in plain sight.

So last year I started this blog with the goal of pushing myself outside my comfort zone. And boy, did I ever… Continue reading

What I learned working at the Winnipeg Free Press

Above: Squinting into the sun and pretending we like each other during the first week of our internships. From left, Jessica Botelho-Urbanski, Kyle Edwards, Sarah Taylor, Inayat Singh, Oliver Sachgau and Mike Schulman. Photo by Boris Minkevich/Winnipeg Free Press

This summer I wore blazers. It was weird. And hot.

Gone were my summer staples of jean shorts and grubby T-shirts, save for one week in July when I escaped to the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Instead, I wore blazers, pencil skirts and what I hoped was appropriate office attire from the end of May through August. And although interning as a reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press tested my sartorial skills, it more importantly confirmed why I decided to pursue a career in journalism — it’s pretty darn exciting. Continue reading

Talking Transit with Judy Wasylycia-Leis

Above: Judy Wasylycia-Leis on board route 12. -JBU

Less than a week ago, I said I wouldn’t be posting anymore over the summer. Needless to say, I got bored.

Also, I had been in contact with potential mayoral candidate, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, before school let out for the year about possibly doing a Transit Talk. So, when we finally both had the time to meet, it was a week after classes let out.

Judy was racing around all day on Thursday. It was May 1, i.e. the first day candidates could officially register in the mayoral race for the upcoming election in October 2014. So, as you can imagine, Judy, a favoured front-runner in the race, had a lot of places to be.

She had media interviews and meetings set up at Neechi Commons (which she calls her favourite place in the city), yet managed to squeeze in an hour-long interview with a random student blogger. I couldn’t be more appreciative.

I had never met Judy before yesterday and honestly didn’t know very much about her before doing research for our interview. What I did know about Judy was that she is a well-respected politician among my friend circle and a vocal advocate for accessible transit.

Judy was an MLA and an MP, representing the North End of Winnipeg in Ottawa for a combined 18 years. She stepped down from federal office to run for mayor in 2010. After a hard-fought campaign, she lost to Sam Katz (116,308 votes to 90,913 votes).

This year, however, Judy is being favoured as a front-runner in the mayoral contest against what’s shaping up to be a large field of competition. Judy hasn’t even officially announced her candidacy as of yet–although she told me if she were to run, she would make the announcement sometime this month.

But regardless of whether she runs or not, Judy sat down with me to discuss some of the hot-button topics in the upcoming election.

Our conversation spanned from talking about BRT (bus rapid transit) vs. LRT (light rail transit), to emphasizing the need for more women and youth to get involved in politics.

[Note: The interview has been edited and condensed.]

Continue reading