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R:ED Archives: Articles and Events from the past...

Transportation Meeting

After residents and developers were upset this summer with the news that the Winnipeg Parking Authority's Residential Parking Pass program was cancelled for the Exchange District, CentreVenture said they would look at alternatives.  Working with the Winnipeg Parking Authority (WPA),  Impark and Peg City Car Co-op, CentreVenture invited residents to a meeting on Nov 21st "to hear about transportation-related changes occurring in the District."

Although most residents had expectations that new solutions were going to be presented, it turned out that the purpose of the meeting was strictly for residents to provide input/feedback on their parking needs.  The residents did not disappoint, as details of needs, hardships and frustrations flowed.

Most residents complained about the need for occasional parking that extended beyond the free overnight parking, the need to accommodate occasional visitors from out of town and frustrations on having no parking available nearby.  One developer in attendance expressed frustration about how the double whammy of the cancellation of Residential Parking Passes and the delays in building the long-promised parking structure on James street has seriously hurt condo sales.

Many solutions were offered, and the presenters seemed to be looking for various solutions to meet various needs.  Suggestions included: making casual parking available for residents in the evenings in the Impark lots (many of which are empty at night), having a residential pass allowing parking in certain Impark lots, completing the James Ave. structure, allowing people to purchase title on a parking spot and residents sharing allocated spots by booking them online.

There was also a brief discussion about setting up a car sharing program in the Exchange.

The feedback from residents will be combined with feedback from similar meetings with business owners and developers. Hopefully within a few months, CentreVenture and the other stakeholders will be able to announce some new parking initiatives that will help residents deal with the daily challenges of living an urban lifestyle.


First Fridays in the Exchange

The First Fridays in the Exchange have been around for over a year, but my bet is many of you have not checked it out. With my iPhone camera in hand, I set out to discover the artistic side of the Exchange on the first Friday in November -- Nov 2nd.

First stop: Warehouse Artworks (McDermot at Albert).  Owner Rod Sasaki was hosting a show of "Articulated Fragments"- abstract paintings by Toronto artist Janice Tayler.  The gallery was busy, the art wonderful, the wine was smooth and the sushi was amazing.  It was hard to leave.

  
 Artist Janice Tayler and Warehouse Artworks' Rod Sasaki
 The gallery was full of First Friday explorers


Next stop, the always interesting Gurvich Fine Art gallery on the second floor of 62 Albert St.  Owner Howard Gurvich was hosting the opening of a show of new work by the outstanding local painter (and former R:ED member), Christian Worthington.

 
 
 There was excitement in the air at this show's opening night
 Howard Gurvich (L) and Christian Worthington


The gallery was packed with a fine art crowd ooo-ing and awww-ing at Christian's paintings.  Did I mention more wine?  This time with chocolate.  They wisely had no chairs in sight, or I might have stayed the night.

With only a little time left before the 9 p.m. closing, I walked to 70 Arthur (Silpit Building) and visited a studio shared by two artists.

The first worked in ceramics, making exquisite designs, many with lace patterns.  The artist, Gaëtanne Sylvester, took time to explain her technique to the attentive gathering. 

The other artist, Marlene A. Campbell, was showing her etchings and prints.  Intricate scratching on copper plates were fascinating in their detail.  When Marlene Campbell showed me a print, where the etching had been transferred to paper, it took my breath away.  The paper had an amazing 3D quality, detail and depth that defied the thinness of paper.  I must go back and see more.

And did I mention?  They had yummy cookies!

Carnaval Street Party

© www.immagine.ca CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOSWhat better way to have a "Grand Opening" than to have a street party?  Newly opened Corrientes Argentine Pizza and Boon Burger combined with Alive in the District and held a street party on Friday August 24 and Saturday August 25.

Bannatyne was closed in the area of the two restaurants, with multiple patios set-up and a stage in the centre.

Noel Bernier, owner of Corrientes and Hermano's says "it is an opportunity to  have a fun street party for those in the area, complete with great latin-inspired entertainment, dancing and of course, wonderful food."

The music was lively and kept the crowd entertained.  Everyone was on their feet when Marcia King started dancing.  Yes it was Bannatyne Avenue, but it felt like Rio!

For a first time event, it seemed like an outstanding success.  Not sure what is planned for next next year, but I'm sure it involves bigger and better.  Looking forward to it already!


A Night of Fighting in the Streets

Arthur Street will be closed between McDermot and Bannatyne Avenues, on August 18th to make room for an outdoor boxing match being hosted by the Pan Am Boxing Club.  "Take it Outside" will present boxing matches starting at 6 pm.  

Tickets are available for the event which features some very talented local boxers.  The main event will have HOT 103's Ace Burpee taking on Lloyd the Intern.

Proceeds from the event will go to support Pan Am Place, a 10,000 square foot residence and fitness facility for at-risk youth at 88 Arthur Street adjacent to the Pan Am Boxing Club. 

The new facility will hold 30 men aged 18 to 24 in a hostel type environment, and will include a community kitchen, study hall and in the basement, a full scale boxing gym.  [more details]

Market Avenue Streetscaping

Chances are, you have seen the heavy equipment working on Market Avenue at Rorie, tearing up the street and blocking traffic.  Construction season comes to the East Exchange.

The City is working on a water main renewal along Market Avenue from Main Street to 125 Market (just east of Rorie Street).

Following the water main renewal and road reconstruction, new streetscaping work will be underway.  Improvements will include installation of new dynamic lighting features, trees in tree vaults, new benches, planters, pedestrian lights, bike loops and garbage cans.

The water main, road and sidewalk work is expected to be complete by October 26th, with lighting elements and street furniture installed by November 9th.

For more info, click here to download a 2 page construction update (PDF).

Council Approves Meter Rate Doubling

The proposed meter rate doubling, from $1 per hour to $2 per hour was approved by City Council on July 18th, and was passed 13 - 3.  Voting against was Councillors Pagtakhan, Eadie and Smith.

The Exchange District along with streets around the MTS Centre are now officially the most expensive areas to drop in to for a quick retail visit or restaurant stop.  These high traffic areas, in addition to the area around the HSC and St. Boniface Hospitals are the only meters in the city charging the premium rate.

Exchange District merchants are fearing for the worst.  Rod Sasaki, owner of Warehouse Artworks, in the Exchange for 25 years worries, "A collateral effect of the increase will be to actually discourage other people from coming to the District and downtown."

Hopefully people realize "it's worth the trip."

The abolishment of the Residential Parking Program was an internal decision by COO Randy Topolniski and did not require council approval. 


Exchange Parking Passes to End

New parking initiatives brought forward by the Winnipeg Parking Authority will have direct impact on the Exchange District.  Firstly, the Residential Parking Program is to be abolished.  In addition, metered parking rates on the busiest streets in the Exchange will be doubled.  These and other changes will be brought to City Council on Wednesday.

>  WPA to Pass on Passes

The Residential Parking Program, popular amongst R:ED members, will be phased out within one year.  New passes can no longer be purchased for the Exchange District, and those with existing passes will be allowed a single one year renewal.

The program, introduced about 3 years ago, allowed a resident to purchase a pass for an annual cost of $25, which allowed the resident to park in any legal parking spot and not be subject to the metered time restriction.  For example, a resident with the pass registered to their car, could park at an Exchange District meter for no charge, and not be subject to the 2 hour limit.

The Winnipeg Parking Authority (WPA) cites abuse of the passes as one of the reasons for its demise.  They cite examples of cars with passes being parking for extended periods, taking up available spaces, though no data has been gathered on the extent of the abuse.

WPA also says that the 2012 residential parking permits will continue in areas of the city that have restricted parking hour limits, but will not be available to anyone who lives on a street with metered parking, which effectively rules out the Exchange District.

>  Effect on Residents

R:ED members who are aware of the change, have expressed outrage.  WPA indicates there are currently about 40 residential permits on the east side of  Main and 90 on the west side.  While a few might be using the pass for full time street parking, the vast majority are using the passes for what they are intended for: to make living downtown easier.

Other than those of us who live downtown, almost all city residents have free parking on their front street.  Most homes have anywhere from one to three parking pad or garage spots on their property, and there is generally available parking at no charge in the front street.  The on-street parking is there for residents, and for their visitors, whether they are coming over for lunch, or out-of-town guests staying a few days.

In the Exchange, if you are lucky, you have one parking spot.  Many have none.  In some areas, spots nearby are difficult to find, even if you can afford them.  Not all areas have parking lots nearby, and many lots are reserved for monthly parkers during the day. 

One R:ED member has this response to the changes:  "We have elderly parents that live in the country that come to see us, my farther in law … walks with a walker.  When they come to stay with us for a night or two we pull our vehicle out of our condo spot and let them park inside and we leave our car on the street. I guess we have to move back to the suburbs to have them stay with us anymore.  There may be those that abuse this system perhaps but far more of us use these permits to make living downtown more manageable."  Others quote that those in the suburbs pay lower taxes and get free parking - a source of considerable frustration!

>  What Now?

Some parking changes changes, like the doubling of meter rates (see below: "Who Wants the Meter Increase"), go to City Council on Wednesday July 18. The elimination of the Residential Parking Pass program for the Exchange District is apparently within the power of the WPA, and will not be presented to Council for approval.

If you wish to express your comments on the elimination of the Residential Parking Program in the Exchange, I suggest you immediately send an email to Councillor Mike Pagtakhan and indicate how not having the pass will affect you.

I have had discussions with Councillor Pagtakhan on this issue, and he is trying to find a way to bring the passes, or similar program, back.

He and I have also met with WPA on this issue.  CentreVenture, who is working with the development community to create a larger residential base in the Exchange, has also met with WPA officials.

I have been told that alternatives to the current Residential Parking Program will be explored.  It is likely that these will not include on-street parking as WPA wants to ensure that residents do not take up metered parking spots that could be used by those patronizing Exchange businesses.  The plan is to have an alternative that can be presented to R:ED perhaps as soon as August and discussed with us.

At a time when the City of Winnipeg, and CentreVenture (funded by the city) are trying to stimulate residential development in the Exchange and downtown, a Special Operating Agency of the city, the Winnipeg Parking Authority is working independently, focused on maximizing parking availability and revenue.  Their actions will undoubtedly make it harder to live downtown and to sell downtown condos.

It seems that if this city wants to take a big step forward, they need to have everyone working in the same direction.

Who Wants the Meter Increase?

The other significant change is that many of the streets in the Exchange are to have their meter rates doubled, from $1 per hour to $2 per hour.  The affected streets include King, Arthur, Albert, McDermot, Bannatyne and Market.

The rationale for the change is to make the price of on street parking in high demand areas more costly so that parking all day in an off-street lot becomes a cheaper option.  The theory continues that if people move their cars to the off-street parking, more spaces will be available on the street at the meters for short term users.

The media is reporting that local merchants want this change.  In an article in the Winnipeg Free Press on July 6, 2012, states: "We want to have a vibrant downtown," Mayor Sam Katz said Thursday, insisting the downtown parking changes were driven by business owners who want to see more parking turnover. "If the merchants downtown are saying, 'This is something we want,' then I'll probably say I'm in favour of it," Katz said.

So just who, in the business community is asking for these changes?  Are Exchange retail businesses supporting the increase?  A quick survey of 8 retail business owners around the retail hotspot of McDermot and Albert revealed 8 of 8 owners felt that doubling the meter rates in front of their stores would not drive customers to the parking lots ... it will drive them to the suburbs.

State of the Exchange District

Lauren Parsons recently did an article for the University of Winnipeg paper, the Uniter, about "The State of the Exchange District."

"The 20-block area filled with small shops, restaurants, art studios and businesses is expanding into a desirable living space for one of the first times in over 100 years."

“The feeling you get from the architecture is what makes it such a gem,” said (Cindy) Tugwell, who believes future development in the area should take its lead from existing stores, galleries, studios and apartments in the area.

Read the full article here.


Shopping Shuffle

The past year has been an active one for the commercial establishments in the Exchange District.  Some business have moved within the area, others have closed with new businesses opening in their space.  

To help you keep track of the retail who's-who, we have put together a brief summary of some of the changes.  If we missed any, please send an email.

>  West Exchange

Deer + Almond (85 Princess)- an upscale diner in the former Princess Grill by chef Mandel Hitzer, formerly of Fresh Cafe and Gluttons.

HutK (74 Princess) - new furniture shop at the corner of Princess and McDermot (formerly a print shop) with exclusive collections of ultra modern furniture.

Interior Illusions (100 Princess) - the main floor has been transformed from the former Penthouse Furniture to the new location of Interior Illusions, featuring both furnishings and interior design service.

Jose & Markham (73 Princess) - Tired of buying shoes from chain stores?  This locally owned company designs their own line of men's shoes (yes, a place for mens shoes!) that are handmade in Mexico. You can browse online, but better yet, go to their beautiful store on a Saturday and touch the full grain leather before you try them on.

the Foxy Shoppe (87 King St.) - this den of sexiness for women features 50's style clothing, lingerie and shoes in a modern version of retro and pin-up.  The attractive shop  took over a vacant space in what used to be a garment factory.

Ordinry (233 McDermot) - a new boutique on McDermot (previously Connect Four) that carries lifestyle urban clothing for men and women.

PROVICI Cosmetics (214 McDermot) - has moved their makeup studio from inside the former Connect Four space half a block up McDermot to sharing space inside Paperdoll Clothing.

Paswera (84 1/2 Albert) - has opened a clothing design studio on Albert in the space formerly occupied by 84 1/2.

Fantasy Boutique (88 Albert) - has opened in the location where Vintage Glory was, with an adult store specializing in plus size lingerie, toys and oils.

Rhymes with Orange (223 McDermot) - is the reincarnated Vintage Glory, featuring men’s and women’s mid-century clothing and accessories and retro housewares.  It is on McDermot where the convenience store was.

Moi Boutique - in the former home of FNQ, this service-oriented shop features fashion and accessories for ladies and men, mostly imported from Europe.

Tara Davis Studio Boutique (246 McDermot)  - in the former Chi Chi location, carries a selection of gifts, accessories and jewelry that are "made with heart in Canada" by Tara and other Canadian artists.

Urban Forest Coffee House and Lounge (93 Albert)  has opened a coffee shop in the space where the Fyxx served coffee and sandwiches for many years.

Fox and Fiddle (456 Main) - is a British-style pub opening "soon" at 456 Main Street in the former TD Bank building just north of McDermot.

Parlour Coffee (468 Main) - next to Berns & Black, this upscale shop only sells coffee and tea, has 8 stools and is generally packed with customers.

>  East Exchange

Aveda Institute (80 Rorie) - This new beauty school/salon/retail store in the Ashdown Warehouse space formerly occupied by Capelli Academy, will be training 60 students at a time in hairstyling and skin care.

Boon Burger (141 Bannatyne) - this all vegan burger cafe will open a new location this summer (it's second) in what used to be a tunnel to access the warehouse loading docks.

Corrientes Argentine Pizzaria (137 Bannatyne) - will be opening later this summer in the former location of the Exchange Cafe.  It is an off-shoot of Hermano's and will combine a cafe with pizzas and empanadas.

Mokada (530 Waterfront Dr) - custom jewelry and design from a cool new store in the You Cube condos.

The "Exchange Experience" is indeed a unique one, with it's heritage architecture and easy to walk scale.  But another contributing factor, apparent from the list above: the shopping is mainly locally owned stores that are one-of-a-kind.  To my knowledge, all but two of the stores listed are locally owned, which makes for a distinctive and rewarding retail experience.


Bike, Walk, Bus, and Sometimes, Drive

Peg City Car Co-op provides the use of a car when you need one and eliminates the costs and hassles that come with ownership. It's a practical alternative that helps meet your transportation needs by supporting you to travel primarily by transit, cycling and walking, and make use of a vehicle only when you need it.

Usage rates cover gas, insurance, parking and maintenance. The car co-op looks after winter tires, maintenance, cleaning and other ownership responsibilities on behalf of all of the members. You pay only for the use of a vehicle when you need it, instead of when you don’t.

Hear what a few car co-op members have to say about why they joined Peg City Car Co-op and the benefits of car sharing:"


If you think car sharing could be part of your transportation solutions, attend the R:ED meeting featuring a discussion on Peg City Co-op -- we would love to see them in the Exchange District.

The City can move fast - water-slide fast!

Those of us who have concluded that the City of Winnipeg moves at a snail pace on all development decisions need to sit up and take notice.  The Mayor has proposed a new development to take place directly across from the $300 million Museum of Human Rights, at the entrance to the Forks on Waterfront Drive.

Details are sketchy.  The Alberta-based developer would build a 50,000-square-foot water park, 250-room hotel and 450-stall parkade.  They would buy the land for $6 million, but the City would give them $7 million for free admissions -- a way to provide public funding for the project.  What the project would look like is unknown.

This 2.2 hectare piece of land is positioned at the entrance to downtown, at the foot of the Esplanade Riel, at the entrance to the Forks, across from the new architecturally stunning museum and across from the baseball park.  A critical property.  No other proposals have been sought.  It does not appear that input from either the Museum people or the Forks has been sought.

The amazing thing is that this proposal is moving at breakneck speed through the City's normally slow processes.  It has passed at the first committee.  It will be voted on by EPC on April 18, then on to full Council on April 25.

The mayor, given the clear conflict of interest (he owns the baseball club) has said he would not vote.

The Winnipeg Sun, in an April Fools Day joke, published a story, (see picture) stating that the new Museum was being turned into a water slide.  The joke seems a bit too close for comfort.

Councilor Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge) said "I really think it's important to citizens that right across from our Guggenheim we don't put a Super 8 motel and a big barn."  A more pointed comment once you realize that the developer has a few Super 8's in its portfolio.

In case this story has escaped your attention, you might want to sit up and take notice because it will be decided this wee, with a vote by City Council on Wednesday April 25th.  If you have questions, check out the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) in the R:ED blog.

If you still have questions / comments / concerns, contact your Councilor.  Quickly.

 

Secret Dinner: the true secret...

WE ARRIVE AT HUTK AND ARE GREETED WITH CHAMPAGNE AND HORS D'OEUVRESThe basic concept of the secret dinner is that you commit to the evening without knowing where or what you will eat, just that it will not be in a restaurant, and that some adventure will be involved.

At our first Secret Dinner in 2012, residents met in the Fairmont hotel lobby, and were taken by cab to a surprise location on Higgins. 

For our second Secret Dinner, on a chilly December 10 2013, about 50 residents were only told to meet at HutK Furnitureon Princess. The building was built in 1883 as the first Oddfellows Hall for the Independent Order of Oddfellows.

Expecting to be transported to the dinner location from there, most were reluctant to take off their coats and relax.  It wasn't until champagne was served that they realized we were not immediately heading onward.  Then came the baby cobs of corn wrapped in prosciutto, and now the coats were coming off!

TRAPPED IN THE ELEVATOR, WE PLANNED OUR ESCAPE...While the relaxing, mingling and drinking was proceeding, the first group was asked to assemble in the back.  Most thought we were going to slip out the back door.  Instead, the plan was to take the freight elevator upstairs.  On the third floor, is the original ballroom used by the Oddfellows and Rebekahs for their events; for us, a spectacular dinner, created by Chef Alejandro Mora, awaited.

However, the adventure was just beginning for the first group.  Ten of us, armed with coats and drinks, squeezed into the old freight elevator.  When the gate closed, we moved a few feet then stopped dead.  Yes, we were trapped in the elevator! [click for FULL STORY]

 

New Exchange Hotel

Developed by Sunstone Boutique Hotels, Mere Hotel is Winnipeg’s newest boutique hotel.  It opened December 15, 2013 on Waterfront Drive in Stephen Juba Park. Mere Hotel is the newest addition to the portfolio managed by Sparrow Hotels, a local Hotel Management company.
 
Mere Hotel is a limited service hotel and features 67 guestrooms that focus on technology and design. An intimate exercise space overlooks the historic Red River, a high tech boardroom features floor to ceiling windows to let in natural light, and the lobby features a spectacular digital interactive “welcome wall”.
 
Cibo Waterfront Café is located just steps from Mere Hotel in the former harbourmaster building. Located right on the banks of the Red River, Cibo Waterfront Café is a Mediterreanean-style café that will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night and will have a takeout menu.

R:ED members will be enjoying an exclusive tour of the hotel and restaurant on February 4th.
 

Perfect Podium Pot-luck Party!

On Sunday September 15th, we held the first R:ED event of the fall season: Podium Pot-luck Party

Hosted by David Connors and Sharon MacDonald, the event was held on the "podium" between the two Excelsior towers on Waterfront Drive. 

The open air outdoor venue was beautiful with residents seated amongst the beautiful large plants.  The sky was clear and as you listened to the entertainment, your eyes could wander westward to the setting sun. [photo gallery]

As it was a pot-luck, there was a stunning array of foods brought by the 70 attendees.  The dessert table was a popular gathering spot into the evening.

A huge variety of great food, lawn chairs, neighbours and sunshine - what more could you ask for?  Yes, we had more: the large turnout was entertained by the smooth folk music of J.P. Hoe.

Big thanks to Dave and Sharon for organizing and hosting this terrific event!


Bannatyne Carnaval: a huge success!

On August 23rd and 24th, R:ED participated in the 2nd annual Bannatyne Carnaval Street Festival.  A true community event, with two stages of free live entertainment on Bannatyne between Waterfront Dr. and Rorie St.

R:ED members were well represented amongst the thousands that attend the two day festival. Three big patios were setup to allow for patrons to sit and enjoy a beverage and food at Corrientes Argentine PizzaCarnaval BBQ Restaurant and Liv in the Exchange.  There were also two beer garden areas, with cocktails available from Prairie 360 and Billabong Gastropub as well as craft beers from Barley Brothers.

If you were hungry, there were BBQ stations from Corrientes serving deer, elk and pulled port sliders, and Carnaval, featuring a full pig BBQ'd the Brazilian way on a cross over a wood fire.

Entertainment was amazing!  The headliner act, Thiago Correa, direct from Brazil, had a crowd dancing in front of the stage whenever they played.  Other crowd-pleasers included Marco CastilloCombo Latino and Paradize Band.

Marcia Monteggia, a Samba dancer from the heart of Sao Paulo who immigrated to Winnipeg in 2004, made sure everyone was on their feet when she and two students of her samba school starting dancing through the street.  The amazing music, combined with Marcia's costumed samba, and a hot and humid street filled with happy people, made for a true Carnaval ending to the evening, and to a successful event.

A big congratulations to my co-chair, Noel Bernier, and his dedicated staff for a truly outstanding event. 
[click on pictures for a larger view]

Jane's Walk

On Saturday May 4th and Sunday May 5th the seventh annual Jane's Walk strolled into town. This year, Winnipeggers could choose from over a dozen guided walks across the city presented in an innovative and uniquely neighbourly fashion.

Free walking tours are held on the first weekend of May each year are led by locals who want to create a space for residents to talk about what matters to them in the places they live and work.  This year's selection included:

The Dreaming Downtown walk was filled with the history of the Scottish settlers, historic forts and their downfalls, engineering marvels including the Winnipeg aquaduct and the pumping station constructed to fight fires -- all along Waterfront Drive. David Connors, the walk leader, knew his history!

Jordan Van Sewell talked about his three art installations in the riverside park, their history and meaning.  John Giavedoniassisted David with commentaries on the residential growth in the Exchange and vignettes on living in the Exchange.

For an hour and a half, the group strolled along Waterfront starting at the north roundabout, and ending at McDermot.  It was a wonderful way to spend a sunny Saturday.


Union Sound Hall - Meeting

A new music venue is scheduled to open in the Exchange in the next few weeks.  The "Union Sound Hall" will be located on the second floor of 114 Market Ave., above Don Pedros Mexican Grill.  We had a special R:ED meeting tonight with the business owner, Sam Colosimo, and manager, Tyler Sneesby.

iAbout 20 attended, and listened to the concept and plan for the venue, and took the opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns.

The venue will host live music events, and will not be a dj pop dance bar.  Tickets will be sold in advance for concerts.  They are hoping to book a wide range of music, attracting performers looking for a venue that can hold up to 440 patrons.  They are also looking for it to be a venue for jazz, fringe and folk festival events.

Issues discussed included noise, parking, garbage and security.  We were told that our concerns would be listened to, that we would be invited to a pre-opening event, and that another meeting after opening could happen if there were other concerns to discuss. 

It was nice to have a business owner consult with residents before opening, and it is a recognition that although the area has many bars and restaurants, it is also a residential area.

Where is the Grocery Store?

The Exchange District BIZ is currently running a survey regarding grocery store needs for the Exchange. Your input is truly valuable as this is a hot issue that is currently being examined.

All entries received by April 22 will be entered into a draw for a $50 gift card to any restaurant in the Exchange District (the winner’s choice).
 
Surveys can be done online, or printed and mailed, faxed or emailed in.
Here are a few links for the survey.
 
Click here for printable survey
Click here for online survey


CARNAVAL - Sneak Peak

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGEOn Saturday, February 8th the Residents of the Exchange District attended a pre-opening dinner at the new CARNAVAL Brazilian BBQ restaurant in Winnipeg. It may have been a warm-up for staff to get ready for next week's soft opening (and the grand opening in March), but for those in attendance, it was a wonderful to experience Winnipeg's first churrascaria BBQ restaurant.

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGEThe various types and cuts of meat just kept coming, brought to your table by gauchos (and one gouchette!), carving the meat from a skewer at your table.  There were almost a dozen kinds of meat, including many cuts of beef, chicken, sausage and lamb. The BBQ, imported from South America, was huge, with room for up to 48 skewers on three levels.  An churrascaria expert was brought in to train staff, and others were sent to Brazil to learn the art.

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGEIt was an evening of delicious meats accompanied with beautifully prepared side dishes, Malbec wine, laughter and fun in this gorgeous new restaurant with unbeatable views to downtown, Waterfront Drive and Steven Juba park.

Thank you to Alejandro Mora, CARNAVAL's GM (and the talent behind our recent R:ED Secret Dinner), for inviting the restaurant's neighbours to this exciting pre-opening event. 

Not only did we have a great time, but all proceeds from the evening, $3,100 was donated to the Immigrant Centre of Winnipeg.

RAW: Almond - Dining on Ice

Some of us are used to having our favourite cocktail "on ice", but have you ever had your dinner on ice?  During 3 weeks of our coldest time of year, local chefs served a fixed five course dinner in a temporary shelter built on the Red River. 

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGEChef Mandel Hitzer(middle) from Deer + Almond is behind the idea of this temporary contemporary restaurant, with participation from Chefs Eric Lee (far left) (Pizzeria Gusto), Alex Svenne (Bistro 7 1/4), Tristan Foucault(Peasant Cookery), Scott Bagshaw (Deseo), Adam Donnelly (Segovia) and others.  Each are taking turns joining Hitzer in the kitchen.

The pop-up restaurant, named RAW:Almond (see Global National TV segment) was built by architect Joe Kalturnyk of RAW: Gallery of Architecture and Design.  It seats 20 diners at one long table, with seating on wooden logs covered with faux fur..

Tickets at $85 were sold out in a few days.  The dinner was about as much fun as you can have on a frozen river!  And what a dinner.  The evening I attended, Chef Hitzer was joined by Chef Eric Lee (far left in "kitchen" image above) of Pizzeria Gusto.  They prepared the following menu:CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

Sultry prawns

Beet risotto, sheep's feta, pistachio, carrot & orange

Hardshell clams, Italiano sausage, white beans grilled bread

Beef and ricotta crespele, caponata, grilled broccolini

Carrot cake, goat cheese parfait, wild blueberry sauce, toasted walnuts, candied carrot chip, fennel greens blueberry citrus dust

It was fantastic!  Between courses, Chef Hitzer came out and told stories, wrestled with Chef Lee or introduced the next entree.

I feel strongly that as we live in an CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGEarea that has a long cold winter, we need to embrace the five month cold season, not hide from it.  If ever there was a delightful way to embrace winter - this was it. 

Of course, the R:ED Spaghetti Skate is the second best way to embrace winter this month.  And the third? Festival du Voyageur, of course.

Secret Dinner: "Stunning!"

"Stunning" was the first word out of City Councillor Mike Pagtakhan's mouth as he and his wife Minas stood on the catwalk entrance and gazed at the dining venue.  At the bottom of the stairs, a server waited with a tray full of champagne and in the corner of the room, behind huge art installations, an 8 piece orchestra played Christmas music.

the Secret Dinner venue looks spectacular!

That was the scene that greeted the 36 wary R:ED adventurers that signed up for the R:ED Secret Dinner.  Starting off at the Fairmont lobby, the group headed out in a procession of taxis, with no idea where their dinner was to be held.

After a brief tour of the Exchange, designed to mislead some, and debunk the destination theories of others, the cabs stopped at a decrepit looking building on Higgins.

Confused residents were greeted at the door of The Graffiti Gallery by Pat Lazo and guided into the administrative offices.  The looks on the faces said it all: "what the heck are we doing here??"


Shaw TV coverage of R:ED Secret Dinner

But passing through the doorway to the two story high gallery, and looking down at the stunning sight, the concern turned to literal jaw dropping, and a steady chorus of "wow!"

A cocktail reception complete with tasty hors d'oeuvres gave participants a chance to check out the amazing art which was an exhibition called "The Undesirables," by emerging Winnipeg artists.  I say "was," because unfortunately the exhibition has ended.

Alejandro More, Carnaval GM: Top Secret plannerThe creative genius behind the evening was Alejandro More, General Manager for the  Carnaval Brazilian BBQ restaurant opening in January 2013 on Waterfront Drive.

The group sat down to a beautiful five course dinner, served family style.  Conversation was lively, food was plenty and the venue was stunning.  And it was all helped along by wine pairings with each course, from De Luca Fine Wines.

We were not only having a good time, we were doing good.  A portion of the event price is to be donated to buying hampers and toys for the 7th annual Christmas Eve Feast.

John Giavedoni, R:ED Exec Director, checks out one of the "large scale sculptural portraits"It is a testament to our community in the Exchange District, that an event like this can sell out -- that people are willing to pay a significant price to have a dining adventure: they did not know where we were going to eat, what we were going to eat, and how were were getting there.  Congrats to those that took the leap of faith -- they were rewarded with a dining experience that they will boast about for a long time.

Check out the event pictures here (R:ED) or here (immagine.ca).

If the price tag of the Secret Dinner was too much of a leap for your budget, fear not -- our January event is free!!  Click on "R:ED Events" button in the left margin of your browser and check out the preliminary plans for the first half of 2013.


R:ED Receives Image Award

Daniel Edwards (left) presents award to John GiavedoniAt the AGM for the Exchange District Biz, an Award of Distinction was presented to the Residents of the Exchange Distict for Image Enhancement.   The beautiful glass award, presented by Daniel Edwards (Board Chair), was accepted on behalf of the residents by R:ED's Executive Director John Giavedoni.

Special accolades go to the organizers of the spring cleanup on Waterfront.  This initiative, spearheaded by R:ED members Merv PritchardDavid Thompson and Mavis Bolman, focuses on debris and litter removal from the riverbank, Stephen Juba Park, Waterfront Drive and surrounding East Exchange streets.  It is a fun annual event, where participants get to meet some neighbours while beautifying the neighbourhood. 

After working, we got together for coffee (donated this year by Bill Thiessen) and pastries (donated by Cynthia Brick) and talked some more! 

In this case, clean-up and community spirit go hand-in-hand, and it is this spirit that was recognized by the Exchange District Biz with this award.


Transportation Meeting

After residents and developers were upset this summer with the news that the Winnipeg Parking Authority's Residential Parking Pass program was cancelled for the Exchange District, CentreVenture said they would look at alternatives.  Working with the Winnipeg Parking Authority (WPA),  Impark and Peg City Car Co-op, CentreVenture invited residents to a meeting on Nov 21st "to hear about transportation-related changes occurring in the District."

Although most residents had expectations that new solutions were going to be presented, it turned out that the purpose of the meeting was strictly for residents to provide input/feedback on their parking needs.  The residents did not disappoint, as details of needs, hardships and frustrations flowed.

Most residents complained about the need for occasional parking that extended beyond the free overnight parking, the need to accommodate occasional visitors from out of town and frustrations on having no parking available nearby.  One developer in attendance expressed frustration about how the double whammy of the cancellation of Residential Parking Passes and the delays in building the long-promised parking structure on James street has seriously hurt condo sales.

Many solutions were offered, and the presenters seemed to be looking for various solutions to meet various needs.  Suggestions included: making casual parking available for residents in the evenings in the Impark lots (many of which are empty at night), having a residential pass allowing parking in certain Impark lots, completing the James Ave. structure, allowing people to purchase title on a parking spot and residents sharing allocated spots by booking them online.

There was also a brief discussion about setting up a car sharing program in the Exchange.

The feedback from residents will be combined with feedback from similar meetings with business owners and developers. Hopefully within a few months, CentreVenture and the other stakeholders will be able to announce some new parking initiatives that will help residents deal with the daily challenges of living an urban lifestyle.


First Fridays in the Exchange

The First Fridays in the Exchange have been around for over a year, but my bet is many of you have not checked it out. With my iPhone camera in hand, I set out to discover the artistic side of the Exchange on the first Friday in November -- Nov 2nd.

First stop: Warehouse Artworks (McDermot at Albert).  Owner Rod Sasaki was hosting a show of "Articulated Fragments"- abstract paintings by Toronto artist Janice Tayler.  The gallery was busy, the art wonderful, the wine was smooth and the sushi was amazing.  It was hard to leave.

  
 Artist Janice Tayler and Warehouse Artworks' Rod Sasaki
 The gallery was full of First Friday explorers


Next stop, the always interesting Gurvich Fine Art gallery on the second floor of 62 Albert St.  Owner Howard Gurvich was hosting the opening of a show of new work by the outstanding local painter (and former R:ED member), Christian Worthington.

 
 
 There was excitement in the air at this show's opening night
 Howard Gurvich (L) and Christian Worthington


The gallery was packed with a fine art crowd ooo-ing and awww-ing at Christian's paintings.  Did I mention more wine?  This time with chocolate.  They wisely had no chairs in sight, or I might have stayed the night.

With only a little time left before the 9 p.m. closing, I walked to 70 Arthur (Silpit Building) and visited a studio shared by two artists.

The first worked in ceramics, making exquisite designs, many with lace patterns.  The artist, Gaëtanne Sylvester, took time to explain her technique to the attentive gathering. 

The other artist, Marlene A. Campbell, was showing her etchings and prints.  Intricate scratching on copper plates were fascinating in their detail.  When Marlene Campbell showed me a print, where the etching had been transferred to paper, it took my breath away.  The paper had an amazing 3D quality, detail and depth that defied the thinness of paper.  I must go back and see more.

And did I mention?  They had yummy cookies!

Carnaval Street Party

© www.immagine.ca CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOSWhat better way to have a "Grand Opening" than to have a street party?  Newly opened Corrientes Argentine Pizza and Boon Burgercombined with Alive in the Districtand held a street party on Friday August 24 and Saturday August 25.

Bannatyne was closed in the area of the two restaurants, with multiple patios set-up and a stage in the centre.

Noel Bernier, owner of Corrientes and Hermano's says "it is an opportunity to  have a fun street party for those in the area, complete with great latin-inspired entertainment, dancing and of course, wonderful food."

The music was lively and kept the crowd entertained.  Everyone was on their feet when Marcia King started dancing.  Yes it was Bannatyne Avenue, but it felt like Rio!

For a first time event, it seemed like an outstanding success.  Not sure what is planned for next next year, but I'm sure it involves bigger and better.  Looking forward to it already!


A Night of Fighting in the Streets

Arthur Street will be closed between McDermot and Bannatyne Avenues, on August 18th to make room for an outdoor boxing match being hosted by the Pan Am Boxing Club.  "Take it Outside" will present boxing matches starting at 6 pm.  

Tickets are available for the event which features some very talented local boxers.  The main event will have HOT 103's Ace Burpee taking on Lloyd the Intern.

Proceeds from the event will go to support Pan Am Place, a 10,000 square foot residence and fitness facility for at-risk youth at 88 Arthur Street adjacent to the Pan Am Boxing Club. 

The new facility will hold 30 men aged 18 to 24 in a hostel type environment, and will include a community kitchen, study hall and in the basement, a full scale boxing gym.  [more details]

Market Avenue Streetscaping

Chances are, you have seen the heavy equipment working on Market Avenue at Rorie, tearing up the street and blocking traffic.  Construction season comes to the East Exchange.

The City is working on a water main renewal along Market Avenue from Main Street to 125 Market (just east of Rorie Street).

Following the water main renewal and road reconstruction, new streetscaping work will be underway.  Improvements will include installation of new dynamic lighting features, trees in tree vaults, new benches, planters, pedestrian lights, bike loops and garbage cans.

The water main, road and sidewalk work is expected to be complete by October 26th, with lighting elements and street furniture installed by November 9th.

For more info, click here to download a 2 page construction update (PDF).

Council Approves Meter Rate Doubling

The proposed meter rate doubling, from $1 per hour to $2 per hour was approved by City Council on July 18th, and was passed 13 - 3.  Voting against was Councillors Pagtakhan, Eadie and Smith.

The Exchange District along with streets around the MTS Centre are now officially the most expensive areas to drop in to for a quick retail visit or restaurant stop.  These high traffic areas, in addition to the area around the HSC and St. Boniface Hospitals are the only meters in the city charging the premium rate.

Exchange District merchants are fearing for the worst.  Rod Sasaki, owner of Warehouse Artworks, in the Exchange for 25 years worries, "A collateral effect of the increase will be to actually discourage other people from coming to the District and downtown."

Hopefully people realize "it's worth the trip."

The abolishment of the Residential Parking Program was an internal decision by COO Randy Topolniski and did not require council approval. 


Exchange Parking Passes to End

New parking initiatives brought forward by the Winnipeg Parking Authority will have direct impact on the Exchange District.  Firstly, the Residential Parking Program is to be abolished.  In addition, metered parking rates on the busiest streets in the Exchange will be doubled.  These and other changes will be brought to City Council on Wednesday.

>  WPA to Pass on Passes

The Residential Parking Program, popular amongst R:ED members, will be phased out within one year.  New passes can no longer be purchased for the Exchange District, and those with existing passes will be allowed a single one year renewal.

The program, introduced about 3 years ago, allowed a resident to purchase a pass for an annual cost of $25, which allowed the resident to park in any legal parking spot and not be subject to the metered time restriction.  For example, a resident with the pass registered to their car, could park at an Exchange District meter for no charge, and not be subject to the 2 hour limit.

The Winnipeg Parking Authority (WPA) cites abuse of the passes as one of the reasons for its demise.  They cite examples of cars with passes being parking for extended periods, taking up available spaces, though no data has been gathered on the extent of the abuse.

WPA also says that the 2012 residential parking permits will continue in areas of the city that have restricted parking hour limits, but will not be available to anyone who lives on a street with metered parking, which effectively rules out the Exchange District.

>  Effect on Residents

R:ED members who are aware of the change, have expressed outrage.  WPA indicates there are currently about 40 residential permits on the east side of  Main and 90 on the west side.  While a few might be using the pass for full time street parking, the vast majority are using the passes for what they are intended for: to make living downtown easier.

Other than those of us who live downtown, almost all city residents have free parking on their front street.  Most homes have anywhere from one to three parking pad or garage spots on their property, and there is generally available parking at no charge in the front street.  The on-street parking is there for residents, and for their visitors, whether they are coming over for lunch, or out-of-town guests staying a few days.

In the Exchange, if you are lucky, you have one parking spot.  Many have none.  In some areas, spots nearby are difficult to find, even if you can afford them.  Not all areas have parking lots nearby, and many lots are reserved for monthly parkers during the day. 

One R:ED member has this response to the changes:  "We have elderly parents that live in the country that come to see us, my farther in law … walks with a walker.  When they come to stay with us for a night or two we pull our vehicle out of our condo spot and let them park inside and we leave our car on the street. I guess we have to move back to the suburbs to have them stay with us anymore.  There may be those that abuse this system perhaps but far more of us use these permits to make living downtown more manageable."  Others quote that those in the suburbs pay lower taxes and get free parking - a source of considerable frustration!

>  What Now?

Some parking changes changes, like the doubling of meter rates (see below: "Who Wants the Meter Increase"), go to City Council on Wednesday July 18. The elimination of the Residential Parking Pass program for the Exchange District is apparently within the power of the WPA, and will not be presented to Council for approval.

If you wish to express your comments on the elimination of the Residential Parking Program in the Exchange, I suggest you immediately send an email to Councillor Mike Pagtakhan and indicate how not having the pass will affect you.

I have had discussions with Councillor Pagtakhan on this issue, and he is trying to find a way to bring the passes, or similar program, back.

He and I have also met with WPA on this issue.  CentreVenture, who is working with the development community to create a larger residential base in the Exchange, has also met with WPA officials.

I have been told that alternatives to the current Residential Parking Program will be explored.  It is likely that these will not include on-street parking as WPA wants to ensure that residents do not take up metered parking spots that could be used by those patronizing Exchange businesses.  The plan is to have an alternative that can be presented to R:ED perhaps as soon as August and discussed with us.

At a time when the City of Winnipeg, and CentreVenture (funded by the city) are trying to stimulate residential development in the Exchange and downtown, a Special Operating Agency of the city, the Winnipeg Parking Authority is working independently, focused on maximizing parking availability and revenue.  Their actions will undoubtedly make it harder to live downtown and to sell downtown condos.

It seems that if this city wants to take a big step forward, they need to have everyone working in the same direction.

Who Wants the Meter Increase?

The other significant change is that many of the streets in the Exchange are to have their meter rates doubled, from $1 per hour to $2 per hour.  The affected streets include King, Arthur, Albert, McDermot, Bannatyne and Market.

The rationale for the change is to make the price of on street parking in high demand areas more costly so that parking all day in an off-street lot becomes a cheaper option.  The theory continues that if people move their cars to the off-street parking, more spaces will be available on the street at the meters for short term users.

The media is reporting that local merchants want this change.  In an article in the Winnipeg Free Press on July 6, 2012, states: "We want to have a vibrant downtown," Mayor Sam Katz said Thursday, insisting the downtown parking changes were driven by business owners who want to see more parking turnover. "If the merchants downtown are saying, 'This is something we want,' then I'll probably say I'm in favour of it," Katz said.

So just who, in the business community is asking for these changes?  Are Exchange retail businesses supporting the increase?  A quick survey of 8 retail business owners around the retail hotspot of McDermot and Albert revealed 8 of 8 owners felt that doubling the meter rates in front of their stores would not drive customers to the parking lots ... it will drive them to the suburbs.

State of the Exchange District

Lauren Parsons recently did an article for the University of Winnipeg paper, the Uniter, about "The State of the Exchange District."

"The 20-block area filled with small shops, restaurants, art studios and businesses is expanding into a desirable living space for one of the first times in over 100 years."

“The feeling you get from the architecture is what makes it such a gem,” said (Cindy) Tugwell, who believes future development in the area should take its lead from existing stores, galleries, studios and apartments in the area.

Read the full article here.


Shopping Shuffle

The past year has been an active one for the commercial establishments in the Exchange District.  Some business have moved within the area, others have closed with new businesses opening in their space.  

To help you keep track of the retail who's-who, we have put together a brief summary of some of the changes.  If we missed any, please send an email.

>  West Exchange

Deer + Almond (85 Princess)- an upscale diner in the former Princess Grill by chef Mandel Hitzer, formerly of Fresh Cafe and Gluttons.

HutK (74 Princess) - new furniture shop at the corner of Princess and McDermot (formerly a print shop) with exclusive collections of ultra modern furniture.

Interior Illusions (100 Princess) - the main floor has been transformed from the former Penthouse Furniture to the new location of Interior Illusions, featuring both furnishings and interior design service.

Jose & Markham (73 Princess) - Tired of buying shoes from chain stores?  This locally owned company designs their own line of men's shoes (yes, a place for mens shoes!) that are handmade in Mexico. You can browse online, but better yet, go to their beautiful store on a Saturday and touch the full grain leather before you try them on.

the Foxy Shoppe (87 King St.) - this den of sexiness for women features 50's style clothing, lingerie and shoes in a modern version of retro and pin-up.  The attractive shop  took over a vacant space in what used to be a garment factory.

Ordinry (233 McDermot) - a new boutique on McDermot (previously Connect Four) that carries lifestyle urban clothing for men and women.

PROVICI Cosmetics (214 McDermot) - has moved their makeup studio from inside the former Connect Four space half a block up McDermot to sharing space inside Paperdoll Clothing.

Paswera (84 1/2 Albert) - has opened a clothing design studio on Albert in the space formerly occupied by 84 1/2.

Fantasy Boutique (88 Albert) - has opened in the location where Vintage Glory was, with an adult store specializing in plus size lingerie, toys and oils.

Rhymes with Orange (223 McDermot) - is the reincarnated Vintage Glory, featuring men’s and women’s mid-century clothing and accessories and retro housewares.  It is on McDermot where the convenience store was.

Moi Boutique - in the former home of FNQ, this service-oriented shop features fashion and accessories for ladies and men, mostly imported from Europe.

Tara Davis Studio Boutique(246 McDermot)  - in the former Chi Chi location, carries a selection of gifts, accessories and jewelry that are "made with heart in Canada" by Tara and other Canadian artists.

Urban Forest Coffee House and Lounge (93 Albert)  has opened a coffee shop in the space where the Fyxx served coffee and sandwiches for many years.

Fox and Fiddle (456 Main) - is a British-style pub opening "soon" at 456 Main Street in the former TD Bank building just north of McDermot.

Parlour Coffee (468 Main) - next to Berns & Black, this upscale shop only sells coffee and tea, has 8 stools and is generally packed with customers.

>  East Exchange

Aveda Institute (80 Rorie) - This new beauty school/salon/retail store in the Ashdown Warehouse space formerly occupied by Capelli Academy, will be training 60 students at a time in hairstyling and skin care.

Boon Burger (141 Bannatyne) - this all vegan burger cafe will open a new location this summer (it's second) in what used to be a tunnel to access the warehouse loading docks.

Corrientes Argentine Pizzaria (137 Bannatyne) - will be opening later this summer in the former location of the Exchange Cafe.  It is an off-shoot of Hermano's and will combine a cafe with pizzas and empanadas.

Mokada (530 Waterfront Dr) - custom jewelry and design from a cool new store in the You Cube condos.

The "Exchange Experience" is indeed a unique one, with it's heritage architecture and easy to walk scale.  But another contributing factor, apparent from the list above: the shopping is mainly locally owned stores that are one-of-a-kind.  To my knowledge, all but two of the stores listed are locally owned, which makes for a distinctive and rewarding retail experience.


Bike, Walk, Bus, and Sometimes, Drive

Peg City Car Co-op provides the use of a car when you need one and eliminates the costs and hassles that come with ownership. It's a practical alternative that helps meet your transportation needs by supporting you to travel primarily by transit, cycling and walking, and make use of a vehicle only when you need it.

Usage rates cover gas, insurance, parking and maintenance. The car co-op looks after winter tires, maintenance, cleaning and other ownership responsibilities on behalf of all of the members. You pay only for the use of a vehicle when you need it, instead of when you don’t.

Hear what a few car co-op members have to say about why they joined Peg City Car Co-op and the benefits of car sharing:"


If you think car sharing could be part of your transportation solutions, attend the R:ED meeting featuring a discussion on Peg City Co-op -- we would love to see them in the Exchange District.

The City can move fast - water-slide fast!

Those of us who have concluded that the City of Winnipeg moves at a snail pace on all development decisions need to sit up and take notice.  The Mayor has proposed a new development to take place directly across from the $300 million Museum of Human Rights, at the entrance to the Forks on Waterfront Drive.

Details are sketchy.  The Alberta-based developer would build a 50,000-square-foot water park, 250-room hotel and 450-stall parkade.  They would buy the land for $6 million, but the City would give them $7 million for free admissions -- a way to provide public funding for the project.  What the project would look like is unknown.

This 2.2 hectare piece of land is positioned at the entrance to downtown, at the foot of the Esplanade Riel, at the entrance to the Forks, across from the new architecturally stunning museum and across from the baseball park.  A critical property.  No other proposals have been sought.  It does not appear that input from either the Museum people or the Forks has been sought.

The amazing thing is that this proposal is moving at breakneck speed through the City's normally slow processes.  It has passed at the first committee.  It will be voted on by EPC on April 18, then on to full Council on April 25.

The mayor, given the clear conflict of interest (he owns the baseball club) has said he would not vote.

The Winnipeg Sun, in an April Fools Day joke, published a story, (see picture) stating that the new Museum was being turned into a water slide.  The joke seems a bit too close for comfort.

Councilor Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge) said "I really think it's important to citizens that right across from our Guggenheim we don't put a Super 8 motel and a big barn."  A more pointed comment once you realize that the developer has a few Super 8's in its portfolio.

In case this story has escaped your attention, you might want to sit up and take notice because it will be decided this wee, with a vote by City Council on Wednesday April 25th.  If you have questions, check out the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) in the R:ED blog.

If you still have questions / comments / concerns, contact your Councilor.  Quickly.

© 2016, Residents of the Exchange District.ca
website by John Giavedoni 

photography by
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