Thursday, April 18, 2019

Is Brian Pallister the biggest slumlord in Manitoba?

I vote yes. 

Yeah, it’s sort of a bold statement. But let me tell you a fun fact that I’ve learned living across from Manitoba Housing for the last 13 years: city by-laws don’t apply to them because they’re considered Provincial property. 

But what does that really mean? Well, for starters it means when the tenants don’t mow the lawn (I’m across from the townhouse style units, and on a corner so it includes a large section of boulevard) you can’t call the city to complain about it. Well, I mean, you can call, but what you’ll learn is there’s nothing they can do to force them to mow the lawn. Or pick up garbage that’s strewn everywhere. And when you call MB Housing about it, nothing gets done. 

Speaking of nothing getting done about things, it literally took over two years to get the tenants evicted from one of those units. This, despite repeated calls from the people on the other half of the duplex and from the MB Housing duplex next door and many other neighbours including myself. The last tenants were *blatantly* selling drugs out of the house, were running a bicycle chop shop and about 11 people were staying there on daily basis even though it was meant to be just one woman and her daughter (who, thankfully I think had been apprehended by CFS). 

So after two years of constant complaints, they were finally evicted and the Province boarded up that side. That was last summer, June or July I believe. Now, part of me thought about writing a post prior to this complaining that there are likely hundreds of people on a wait list for housing, and this property sits empty. 
Although, after years and years of a rotating cast of terrible tenants there is finally peace and quiet in ythe other three units and it’s a true gamble if new tenants will be any good, so empty means quiet. 

Or so I thought. 

The other day I thought I noticed a sliver of light above the board on the front window, but I thought it might just be my brain playing tricks on me. Well, tonight confirmed it - an upstairs bedroom has a light on. Which, I wouldn’t know if MB Housing was forced to board their properties to the same standards as other property owners under the Boarded and Vacant by-laws (boarding permit must be taken out at I believe a cost of $1000, all windows and doors must be boarded AND painted and if not rectified after a year the cost of the boarding permit for the next year doubles, and property must be inspected before being reoccupied). I’ll begrudgingly admit that in this particular case it’s a bit of a silver lining. 

So now there are squatters. When I called MB Housing Security, whom I programmed in my phone years ago, I learned that this this isn’t the first time that people have broken in. Bets on if the house is littered with needles? Seems like a suckers bet. 

I also was speaking with another neighbour from down the block earlier today (hallelujah it’s spring! We’re all getting out of our houses again!) who also lives in a MB Housing duplex. The other half of her unit is also vacant and has been broken into several times; she has 3 children and lives in constant fear of what’s happening on the other side of her walls. 

Private landlords would never be allowed to get away with this (assuming the neighbours chose to be proactive). Why is it acceptable for the Province to do it?? I KNOW the problem is far more widespread than what is happening on my block. 

I invite Mr. Pallister to come on down this July and see the two foot tall grass* on the boulevard, with all sorts of garbage and needles hiding in there. If he’s lucky, maybe he can meet some squatters too!

*The grass probably won’t be two feet tall. Why? Because every year, even after I vow that I’m not going to cut the grass, I break down and do it, because otherwise I have to look at it. I’ve asked the tenants in the unit to at the very least please clean the garbage from the boulevard so that I don’t have to do it/damage my lawnmower, but they don’t do a great job of it. It’s technically their responsibility to maintain the yard when they live in that style of housing - I’ve never minded helping out as I know that most folks probably can’t afford a lawnmower and their only option for storing it would be in their basement. All I ask in return is for the garbage to be picked up. But if they know they can run a crack den and bicycle theft ring out of their place without repercussions it seems unlikely they’ll face much grief from MB Housing for not keeping up with yard maintenance. 

If any media would like to expand on this story I’m happy to provide you with the address, just send me a message through twitter @lovemelovemywpg

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

I need your help

Not at all the reason I'd hope to finally get around to writing a blog post, but here it is.
I need help helping someone else leave a long term abusive relationship, and I have no idea where to start. She is willing to leave, however because of how she is I sort of need to pluck her from her current situation and present her with her "new life" - she is in her 70s and has put up with things this long and would rather just be miserable in her current situation rather than face uncertainty and be alone in a shelter type situation (although there is a new stress point in the relationship and she recognizes that her situation is extra volatile at the moment).

Her half of his pension (she has never really worked outside of a family business, which is currently facing closure, this is the change in situation that has made it time senstive) plus her OAS should be enough for her to live on - how long can it be expected to take for her to be granted that? He certainly won't give it to her willingly.

Is there a way to freeze the bank accounts (or more likely, lines of credit) so that he can't drain them?  I believe that they have joint accounts, however, they have a very "old fashioned" situation where she seems to not really know much, if anything, about their finances. The flip side to that question I suppose is, if it's a joint account/line of credit, how much could she withdraw on her own? Is that amount set by the individual banking institution or some sort of federally regulated thing? My understanding from what I have read is that she could file for divorce, and he could contest it, but that after 1 year it would be granted regardless?

I really don't know much about their financial situation in general (because she doesn't) but I don't think with their combined income that she would be considered low income, but on her own with just half of his pension and her OAS she likely would be - how does one qualify for legal aid and is this (divorce/separation) even something that is covered under that?

Of course in an ideal world she would be entitled to half of the value of the family home etc, however I know that could take quite some time, and he would likely contest everything to make her suffer. More than anything we need her to have access to her half of his pension.

He is currently just extremely emotionally abusive, in the past it has been physical abuse as well. There is concern that the unexpected closure of the family business (which is "all her fault " as has been screamed at her several times) will lead to him physically abusing her again.

Is there such a thing as being able to expedite getting into Manitoba Housing or other Rent Geared to Income housing? With how beaten down she is mentally I think the only way we will be able to get her to leave is if we treat her like a sleeping child in a car - pick her up out of her current place and gently place her down in a new one (basically, "here you are, this is your new apartment you live here now, you don't ever have to go back").

If there's anyone who is able to help guide me in the right direction I would be very grateful; I'm happy to buy you a coffee and have a chat. This woman has been part of my life for over 30 years and I'm so pleased she's finally willing to leave - we just need to be able to set her up with a little apartment and I'm not able to help her financially to do that.

Eternally grateful for any help you can offer me readers.
xx WinnipegGirl

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Parking is free, except when it’s not

I am livid.

Did you know that the city has changed how the two hour free parking works on Saturday? Despite no new signage on the meters, same old sticker that says two hours of complimentary parking on Saturday, we are all supposed to now know that the only way you get the two hours free is when you pay for two hours first.

How did I come to realize this? Well when I saw one very diligent parking patrol person ticketing basically EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE EXCHANGE DISTRICT.

I ran out to ask what she was doing, wasn’t it two hours of free parking?? Nope apparently not. I can check the city website if I’d like. Yes, because I always presume that the meter isn’t providing me the information that I need. Also, every single person in the world has a smartphone to confirm parking regulations on the go.

Did anyone else know about this change? When I googled two hours free parking Winnipeg Saturday the only page that made mention of this policy was the City of Winnipeg Parking Store, last updated December 1st. There’s a Free Press article from January 16, 2016 that clearly talks about two hours free parking, no strings attached. The Downtown Winnipeg Biz website states two hours free parking with no mention of needing to pay for two hours first.

So what the heck Winnipeg?

(I’ll add photos and screenshots later, it seems to be an impossible task on my phone, which is why I never blog anymore as I do everything on my phone).

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Marketing done right!

Well, I cringe a little at the fact that a chain establishment is what is making me write my first post in a very long time, but so be it.

I am a fan of rewards programs, but I try to be selective in the ones I join, because my wallet only has so much space and I only want to sell my soul shopping habit details to so many corporations in exchange for perceived free items.

One such program that I belong to is Qdoba, as fake Mexican food is probably my favourite kind of food*

Now, at heart I'm a Burrito Del Rio sorta gal, their chipotle sauce is ridiculously good. However, I don't often find myself near either of their locations when I tend to get hungry, probably because there are not any thrift stores near there... I of course also like the idea of supporting a local establishment.

One day I tried Qdoba at the recommendation of a friend. I didn't really like it and I thought the portions were chintzy. He let me in on a secret... you can basically have as much of everything but meat for no extra charge! Now, I find their portions to be more on par with BDR and I'm a fan (well, except when they get judgy about my extras, listen lady, I know that's a lot of cheese sauce I asked for, but when I say three scoops, I mean three FULL scoops).

Anyway, the point of this post...
So today in my emails, because I have the Ellice location set to my "home" location, I got this incredibly clever offer telling me I deserve a deal for "braving the elements". That's right, they took the knowledge they had of the snowstorm and how it was likely going to bring traffic to a halt and they turned it into a marketing opportunity. They also didn't do it half-assed, they're doing a full on BOGO. Bravo Qdoba, bravo. You have won my respect for what you will do with my email address.

On a side note, just in case the people who own Burrito Del Rio read this... I might make more of an effort to stop in if your take out "Naked Burrito" was as good a deal as your eat in version. You eat in and you get a nice heaping bowl of tasty goodness; take out you get a teeny little clamshell. I know you have bigger clamshells, why not offer it in two sizes like you do the wrapped burritos? Also, how about a self serve water station for when folks do eat in? Oh! and good grief, I realize it's delicate balance between keeping your staff vs your customers comfortable, but your a/c that blows right onto people (River location) is too cold. Always. Like so cold. Which is why I have to do take out so often.

*which is interesting because I used to be one of the cilantro-tastes-like-soap people, but I grew out of it and now I can't get enough.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer is finally here!

Blueberry Mojito and Seven Seas
That's right. I'm declaring it. Okay, so the calendar also declares it, so summer it is (even if the weather can't seem to be summer-like for more than two days in a row!)

I have made a major life change recently, going from nice and stable employment to the joys of self-employment. So far not starving to death, but also not typically getting to eat out as much as I might like!
Tequila Sour

Now, if I was going to eat out, weirdly (this makes sense if you read my post last year...) I would again choose to go to Joey restaurant. If my last post is a little to long for you to read, the TL;DR version is: usually I dislike chain restaurants, but Joey impressed me.

They haven't slowed down since last year, and again have brought out a summer menu that's something worth trying. Their mixoligists have clearly discovered the magic that egg whites bring to a drink (nice and frothy!) and they showcase them in drinks like their version of a Tequila Sour and their own creation of the Seven Seas. I was also pleased to see they brought back their Blueberry Mojito.

Tandoori Flatbread
Again, full disclosure, the nice people at Joey did feed me for free, but anyone who knows me IRL knows I wouldn't say nice things just because of that.

Korean Cauliflower
They took us through the menu just like if we were dining out, starting with appies and all the way through to dessert. Always a fan of an Indian inspired dish, I really enjoyed the Tandoori Flatbread. This is apparently a re-worked menu item and the bread is hand stretched and baked to order.

We also got to try the Korean Fried Cauliflower, which is a good way to get me to eat my veggies (I also am partial to cauliflower smothered in cheese sauce, should anyone want to invite me over for dinner) and the Calamari Frito; they only use the bodies and tentacles in their calamari, I didn't have the guts to try a body...

Market Salad
The Market Salad is a perfect lighter meal (because, let's face it, restaurant food isn't the lightest fare around) that still packs some protein as includes their HOURLY ROASTED chicken. Let's just pause for a moment and consider the idea of a chain restaurant preparing something hourly. If this seems like NBD to you, talk to anyone you know who has ever actually worked in a restaurant. Typically all prep is done in the morning. Also in the Market Salad you'll find kale, beets, corn and avocado... and a little cheddar - you gotta live a little you healthy people!

Lobster Grilled Cheese
Butcher sandwich

The Lobster Grilled Cheese was also tasty, but as someone who doesn't go ga-ga for lobster that part was a little lost on me; however it did have nice melty brie which I am a fan of! They also have their version of a beef dip, which they call the Butcher Sandwich. I'm not normally a huge fan of a beef dip, but this was actually really good. It comes with a smoky jus and the beef is nice and thinly sliced so it's really easy to eat.

ooooh..... fancy
Ice cream making
They finished us off with a demonstration of their in-house made-daily ice cream. This is made with liquid nitrogen, which, I can't lie, reminds me of the kids desserts they used to have at Moxies a million years ago (that was my first service industry job, a lowly hostess). However, again, hella impressed that they do this - expect the flavours to change daily. We were lucky enough to try the strawberry, salted caramel, the maple and the double chocolate - all delicious - it was a really tough day :p

So that's it guys. I promise to start writing some real blog posts soon, but basically, don't necessarily write off Joey restaurant just because it's a chain; I think this is like the equivalent of hating your favourite local band just because they started doing arena shows.
Ice cream!!!

**Also, since I'm now self-employed (read: poor as hell) please feel free to invite me to things that have free food :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Psssst.... want to read a post I wrote last year about a castle??

If you're thinking this post looks familiar, it's because it does. I've totally just cheated and copied my post from just over a year ago.  Since the real estate link would no longer be valid, here is the new one.

I'm not sure why it's for sale again. I never went to look at it last time; perhaps the owner just bit off more than they could chew? The asking price is the same though, which would indicate that they probably haven't done anything at all to it since then. Or, I suppose it just didn't sell? Who knows. In any case enjoy my post from last year.


Needless to say, there are not a lot of castles for sale in Manitoba, or perhaps even Canada. Which is probably a good thing because most castles were built in the days before indoor plumbing and central heating, two things I consider essential.

There is however, a "castle" for sale right here in Winnipeg, at 494 College Ave. In around 1906, construction started on this epic building (no, I don't know details like that at the drop of a hat, there is a incredibly detailed 3 part blog post on West End Dumplings).

People have been writing about this gorgeous house since the 50s according to a piece written by The Times two years ago, AND NOW YOU COULD OWN IT!!!

Since I refuse to consider the neighbourhood to be a downside to this property (because, it isn't, get over it) I would say that the complete lack of a back yard would be the only thing that might keep you from running out and buying this. It does have a pretty great front yard though, and trust me, you meet way more neighbours in your front yard vs. the back.

According to the listing for this property, 494 College is currently divvied up into 6 suites and assuming you live on the main floor in the 3 bedroom suite, you get to collect $2275 a month in rent! To point out the obvious, that means you would be being paid to live there... (assuming you could get away with 5% down, which you actually probably couldn't because it's a rental, but assuming you could, your mortgage would be $1344/mo based on the current asking price of $299,000 - but it's now been on the market for a month so you could maybe even get it a little bit less). Personally I would slowly start reclaiming some of the suites as personal living space, but so long as you left one or two you could still basically live for free. In a CASTLE.

Living in this house would put you in great company, with some of these other notable homes in Winnipeg, as found here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Where is it?

Every now and again I like to pretend that I am going to be healthy. This most recent time had me scouring the City webpage to find out where their fitness centers and pools are. That is the first problem - not easy at all to find on their homepage.

 Scrolling down, it seems like it might be under the "Activities and Recreation" section.


So then I thought I would use their drop down menu that is probably there to make things easy... Well, I could get to it from there but it's not super clear as you can only get to it by selection "Community Centres" - which to me is not quite the same thing - but at least it takes me to a page with a menu in the left column that will take me where I want to go.

Once I finally found the page (also available after multiple clicks on the "Residents" tab) I started looking at my options.

One of them is the Eldon Ross Pool, which, according to the Homepage for this pool, it is located in the North End.

Nope. Not even a little bit. It is definitely on the wrong side of the tracks to even be remotely considered the North End. But, there is the helpful link to the "now" (Neighbourhoods of Winnipeg) tab! Ah yes, it is in the Brooklands Neighbourhood.

 I didn't bother to look at all of their listings, perhaps this is the only error. My guess would be that it's not, but last time I checked, this gig is a volunteer one (that occasionally gets me invites to events that have food. I like food). *EDIT* I went and looked, at least one other is wrong. It lists the North Centennial Pool as being in Point Douglas (and the "now" map says Dufferin).

But I guess I'm just curious as to how it ever got listed as being in the North End in the first place?? If the people doing our City website don't even know the boundaries of the common names given to the large areas of town perhaps it's no wonder that the media don't either. Haha, kidding, I totally expect them to know. For those of you not from Winnipeg, the North End has a very very very clear boundary to the south, a ginormous rail yard, this pool is most certainly to the south of that.

I've tried to figure it out, maybe they labeled it according to City Council wards? That could explain why North Centennial is listed as Point Douglas... oh wait, but Eldon Ross is still not in the North End (as there is no North End ward), nor does a Grant Park ward exist for the Pan Am pool as it is listed as being in. Maybe we are talking Provincial boundaries on the City website? Nope that doesn't fit either.

Basically, TL:DR - someone dropped the ball and the City of Winnipeg website needs some fine tuning!