Portage Place: Let’s Take Back What’s Ours

The $41 million (in 2019 dollars) in public money invested in Portage Place means that Portage Place is ours. We fought for that money in the 1970s: it was the Inner City Committee for Rail Relocation that struggled for years and won the funding allocated to the Core Area Initiative. The money was supposed to go into affordable housing, daycares, and clinics, but it was taken away from us and it has never “trickled down” to us. Now we have the chance to get some of it back.

The mall is already ours, practically speaking. When suburbanites turned their backs on it, we made use of it. Look around at the storefronts and offices in the mall: youth breakdancing, art programming, public health programs, legal aid, disability rights advocacy, social services. Every demonstration, every rally and round dance organized in Portage Place reiterates that claim. Every time we take up space, every time we sit on the planters, every time we defend elders and young people from harassment by the guards, we say “this place belongs to us.”

“We” means the people of Winnipeg’s city centre – Central Park, Centennial, the North End, the West End, all the poor and working-class neighbourhoods in the core of the city. The people who are neglected as the state keeps taxes low and puts most of its money into the suburbs. The people whose housing, schools, daycares, clinics, parks, grocery stores, libraries, public transit, swimming pools, and community centres deteriorate, cut their hours, and in some cases disappear because of it. The people who are blamed for this “decline” and then swamped with police and security guards everywhere. The people who came together in multi-racial and multi-issue coalitions – who saw that Indigenous sovereignty, Treaty 1, the Manitoba Act, Black power, migrant justice, feminist struggles, LGBTTQ* rights, disability justice, and more, are all crucial to the health of our community – and demanded that the government make funds available that we could control, that we could use to realize our own visions for the city centre.

Forks North Portage is a public entity. It is owned by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments. Those governments claim to serve the people – all of the people, not just Starlight Acquisitions. Until now, Portage Place was owned by private firms, and Forks North Portage owned the land and parking lot under it. But now Forks North Portage has a plan to find a new owner for the mall, and the plan requires Forks North Portage to briefly take ownership of the mall in order to bundle it with the land and parking lot, because that’s what Starlight Acquisitions wants. This is a golden opportunity to get the mall back. After three decades, publicly-funded Portage Place will be publicly-owned for the first time. We can’t let them give it away again.

It’s time for our plan. The capitalist plan for Portage Place failed. Racist suburbanites can’t stand Portage Place. Corporate owners can’t stand the people who use Portage Place. Good bye to them and good bye to their failed plan. We – our communities, our elders, our children, our parents – are what matter. We are the future of the city. Taking care of each other, having good places to live, getting the healthcare we need, raising children, educating ourselves, coming together to change the world – that is what we need space for.

On Thursday, July 18 at 9:30am City Council will vote to approve Forks North Portage’s plan unless we stop them. You can register to speak at the council meeting by emailing CGilroy@winnipeg.ca or calling 204-986-5953 before 4:30pm on Wednesday. Tell them you want to speak in opposition to the sale of Portage Place.

Updated July 17th to reflect new registration information (direct to Cindy Gilroy).

Owen Toews is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta. He received his PhD in geography from the City University of New York and is a CCPA-MB Research Associate. He is the author of Stolen City: Racial Capitalism and the Making of Winnipeg


Job Posting: Alternative Climate Action Plan Researcher – Road to Resilience

Job posting

Alternative Climate Action Plan Researcher – Road to Resilience

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Manitoba office (CCPA – MB) is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social, economic and environmental justice.

Draw on existing research and engagement, this position will create a community-based climate action plan for Winnipeg and Manitoba to significantly reduce Green House Gas emissions and make Winnipeg and Manitoba more resilient.

This position is thanks to a collaborative grant from the Winnipeg Foundation overseen by the Climate Action Team – Manitoba, a partnership between Climate Change Connection, Green Action Centre, Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, The Wilderness Committee Manitoba and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba. This position is supervised by CCPA Manitoba and will receive guidance from the Climate Action Team Manitoba core team members.

Alternative Climate Action Plan Researchers: Steps & Outputs for Research and Engagement

  1. Create basic fact sheets on climate crisis in Winnipeg & Manitoba
  2. Scan of existing groups and research, develop list of stakeholders with input from project partners. In partnership with the Climate Action Team, engage with key stakeholders.
  3. Analysis of existing Manitoba and Winnipeg government plans
  4. Refine value framework and goals with the Climate Action Team & create project plan
  5. Targeted Alternative Climate Plan based on existing research and engagement. Focus on resilience in following key areas:
    1. Energy
    2. Food
    3. Shelter
    4. Transportation
    5. Natural spaces / wilderness
    6. Regulation
    7. Green jobs

More areas to be identified depending on time and resources

  1. Draft circulated for feedback to stakeholders
  2. Feedback incorporated
  3. Final plan circulated for endorsement
  4. Community Climate Action Plan launch

Qualifications and Skills

  • University degree, preferably at the master’s level, environmental studies or a related field
  • Dedication, experience and expertise in research toward social, environmental and economic justice with experience in research related to climate action
  • Experience with project management, budget and time management
  • Experience and expertise public policy oriented, actionable research
  • Experience with stakeholder engagement, conflict resolution and building strong long-term relationships with community organizations and individuals
  • Strategic thinker, ability to be function within a changing policy landscape
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills, particularly when it comes to the emerging field of climate action

The successful candidate should share a commitment to CCPA’s social justice mandate. The person hired for the position will be self-directed and feel comfortable working in a small office team environment.

Anticipated start date: August 12th, 2019.

This is a part time, 2.5 days/ week researcher position for 32 weeks. Wage is commensurate with the CCPA Manitoba pay scale for a researcher position.

CCPA seeks to achieve employment equity. If you identify as First Nations, Métis, Indigenous, racialized, and/ or a person with a disability, you are encouraged to indicate this in your cover letter.

How to apply: Please submit a cover letter, CV/ resume and writing sample with the subject heading “Climate Action Researcher” by Monday July 15, 2019 at 5 pm to:

Molly McCracken, Director, CCPA – MB molly@policyalternatives.ca

Thank you to all who apply, only those who are selected for an interview will be contacted.




The Gaslighting of Manitobans in Health Care

By Brianne Goertzen

First published by the Winnipeg Free Press June 25, 2019

The health care overhaul has been well-documented in the media, and routinely questioned in the Legislative Assembly, yet transparency and accountability is lacking. In fact, our government has embarked on a communication strategy that can only be explained as gaslighting Manitobans. Read More

A Climate Emergency Calls for a Green New Deal (Not a Pipeline)

By Laura Cameron

I feel like I’m living in two alternate realities. On the one hand, governments in Canada and around the world are heeding the voices of the youngest and most vulnerable communities and have declared a state of emergency on climate change, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Paris Agreement targets. Read More

Time to move forward with respect

By Marcel Hardisty

First published in the Winnipeg Free Press June 5, 2019

For the last 100 days Camp Morningstar has nurtured a sacred fire on Hollow Water First Nation traditional territory in order to provide balanced information to counter the one-sided proposals and outdated scientific research presented by Canadian Premium Sand (CPS). We have been silenced, lost our jobs, and ignored, but we are still here. Read More

Why Strong Manitoba School Boards Matter

Notwithstanding discussions and concerns about recent provincial Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) test scores, or the importance of always looking for improvement, Manitoba has a high quality public school sys­tem that is the envy of most other jurisdictions around the world. Two touchstones of this sys­tem, we argue, are: (i) a vision of the purpose of schooling as fundamentally educational and in­clusive; and (ii) a structure that values and nur­tures professional expertise within a framework of public responsibility and accountability.  READ FULL REPORT HEREBy Jon Young and Dick Henley

MB Liquor Between Rock and Hard Place

By Lynne Fernandez

The issuance of mandate letters to provincial crown corporations has put management and staff on notice, warning that “the old way of doing things” is over.

The preamble for all the letters is the same, with claims that this government is committed to “prudent fiscal management, creating jobs, improving health care and education” etc. etc. Each letter then spells out the specific changes the government expects each crown to make. Read More

New Manitoba Housing Data

Cutting Access Program funding is bad for Manitoba

By Christine Rossman

First published by CBC Online May 11, 2019

Getting ahead is becoming virtually impossible for people in severe financial need who want to go back to school and turn their life around. Last year the Manitoba government terminated 210 Provincial Access Bursaries valued at $1.5 million dollars. Access students who need financial support the most to finish up their degrees are now not receiving it. In addition, the Access program was cut by an additional $1 million. Read More

Education reviews must focus on kids

By Erika Shaker

In January, Manitoba’s education minister Kelvin Goertzen announced the creation of a commission to review the provincial school system and propose a ‘“renewed vision for kindergarten to Grade 12 education,” to “ignite change” to existing systems, structures and programs’. Read More