In Winnipeg the Electric Past is the Future

Broadway looking east, 1914.
Archives of Manitoba, Wpg/Streets/Broadway 11

The city of Winnipeg was once a leader in sustainable transit then along came the automobile and the city is now known for the worst intersection in Canada (it’s so bad they ban pedestrians from using it). Winnipeg was home to one the largest electric trolley network and the city was built along the transit lines with large bueatgul streets. Today, the city is dominated by cars. The future of transit in the city will return to its former glory days slowly but surely. Winnipeg is looking to electrify their public transit network and they can serve as a model city for other Canadian communities that want to return to friendly transit.

And though it wasn’t a priority, Winnipeg was an early adopter of emissions-free transit. “You didn’t think of the environment or anything like that back then,” Agnew says. Today, of course, things have changed. Winnipeg is just one of many cities planning a cleaner, lower emissions transportation network.

In a twist of fate, local company New Flyer Industries — which manufactured Winnipeg’s first diesel buses under the name Western Flyer in 1967 — secured a contract in 2022 to produce up to 166 battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses for the city over the next four years. With electric bus technology will come a new era of electric transit infrastructure, including charging stations, hydrogen production capacity and a re-configuration of the transit network.

Read more.

Fresh, Local Food in Winnipeg

The University of Winnipeg was once lambasted in the annual MacLean’s ranking of Canadian Universities for having some of the worst campus food in the country (which is saying a lot…). Instead of wallowing in self-pity and eating another Big Mac to dull the pain, they hired a young, idealistic executive chef and completely overhauled their food services program. They now offer real food based around fresh, predominantly local ingredients, and have made this change using a business model that not only provides jobs to inner-city residents, but also manages to turn a profit.

Food is not historically a major priority of university administrations. But having taken over the school’s top job in 2004, [University President Lloyd] Axworthy, the former minister of foreign affairs, grew tired of the harsh reviews. Two years ago, he decided to buy out the contract of its large, multinational catering firm. In its place, the school established its own arm’s-length culinary company, Diversity Foods, in partnership with local non-profit SEED Winnipeg.

Read the rest of the delicious article at The Globe and Mail!

Winning Over Winnipeg Workers

Here’s an inspiring piece of one entrepreneur in Winnipeg who saw a labour shortage and a surplus of people and put the two together. He, with the help of the government, created a program to train unemployed and young Canadian First Nation people to be able to work at his company. That might not sound extraordinary, but apparently this went against convention and shocked a lot of others in the field.

During a labour crunch four years ago, Mr. Saulnier felt the familiar pressure to hire workers from abroad. Some tycoons in the industrial construction business even took him aside and told him he could only win bids on massive infrastructure jobs if he had a large and secure labour pool. And the only way to assure that – at least as conventional thinking goes – was to launch an overseas recruitment program.

But Mr. Saulnier isn’t exactly conventional. He saw an untapped source of labour much closer to home.

“I grew up in a small Northern Ontario town where I was surrounded by first nations communities, where there were very good men and women who are just wishing for a job,” he explained in an interview. “Against the advice of business advisers and industry colleagues, we decided to seek them out.”

Keep reading at the Globe and Mail.

Thanks to Greg!

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