A “Y” in every neighbourhood? Not quite, but getting there.

Taking a break from politics for a moment…

The city’s southwest neighbourhoods might be the “have-more” parts of Winnipeg — the area of town that can claim Corydon Avenue, the elegant streets of Crescentwood and North River Heights, and the city’s top bookstore as its own — but it has never had its own branch of the YM-YWCA.

That might be about to change, however, as the YM-YWCA of Winnipeg revealed this week that it is considering building a branch in southwest Winnipeg to expand its services to the city’s fastest growing quadrant.

As the following map shows — based on areas within a five-kilometre (3 mi.) driving distance of the existing Downtown, North End, Portage West, East Kildonan and St. Vital branches — southwest Winnipeg is currently the biggest gap in the Y’s regional coverage model, leaving area residents having to use out-of-the-way locations to take advantage of the organization’s wide range of workout and program options.

Catchment areas for current Y locations (estimated 3 mi./5 km. driving distance)

As shown below, a new YM-YWCA branch constructed in Waverley Heights, thought to be the most likely location for a new outlet, would mean a considerable improvement in accessibility for residents of Winnipeg’s southernmost suburbs. This would, however, still leave gaps in River Heights, Crescentwood and Tuxedo, which the Y might figure is already well-served by the Pan Am Pool, the Reh-Fit Centre and the Rady Centre and thus a less pressing priority.

Estimated catchment area of a Waverley Heights Y, compared to existing locations

A branch along Kenaston would nicely fill the gap between the Portage West and Fermor Ave. locations, but would not likely be built until demand in the under-served suburbs further south has been satisfied.

Estimated catchment area of a "Y" branch in the Kenaston/Grant area, compared to existing branches

Transcona also remains a notable gap in the Y’s regional coverage model, a fact not overlooked by the administrators of a Facebook page dedicated to lobbying for a Y branch in that part of town.

Given that even from the western end of Transcona it’s a nine-kilometre drive to the Kimberly Ave. branch in East Kildonan and 13 kilometres to the Fermor branch in St. Vital — add an extra 5 to 7 kilometres from the east end of Transcona — their eagerness for a branch of their own is understandable.

Estimated catchment area of a "Y" branch in west Transcona

Even three new branches would leave the Y with weak coverage in the city’s more distant northwest and southeast suburbs, as well as in areas of West Kildonan and Garden City to some degree, where some residents might be reluctant to use the smaller, resurrected North End facility. But even one new branch would be progress, and would be beneficial to the goal of getting city residents to be a little more active.

Estimated catchment areas based on results from the Drivable Radius Map at abstractlogic.net

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Share your comments and stories

(Updated May 16, 2011 with two links to posts that have been since written.)

There are a few things that I’m interested in doing some further research on for future blog posts. If you can help answer any of the questions below, please leave a comment or send an e-mail to theviewfromseven@gmail.com. (Or, if you know someone who might be able to share their insights, please share this blog post with them.)

Three Winnipeg TV outlets celebrate their Golden Anniversaries this year. CBWFT, Winnipeg’s local French-language TV station, will celebrate its 50th anniversary on April 24. CTV affiliate CKY-TV will also celebrate its 50th anniversary of its Nov. 12, 1960 debut as CJAY-TV. This year will also be both a Golden and Coral/Jade anniversary for Global affiliate CKND-TV — the 50th anniversary of its sign-on as border station KCND in Pembina, N.D. on Nov. 7, 1960 and the 35th anniversary of KCND’s becoming the first and only TV station to move across an international border to become CKND in Winnipeg on Aug. 31, 1975.

  • What were your favourite shows on these stations?
  • Were you among the young people in Winnipeg who used to check out the racy late night movies on the French station in the ’80s?
  • Are you still a fan of Bob Swartz’s Archie and His Friends and Funtown, Chiller Thriller Theater or Gordon McLendon’s strange on-air editorials after all these years?  Do you still groan at the thought of CKND’s Jackpot (a quirky ’80s game show where someone would pop up and yell “Jackpot!”) or CKY’s Debate (a weekly debating contest between teams from different local high schools, the only entertaining part being that these teenagers were generally nervous wrecks)? Dare I even go off-topic and mention 13 MTN’s early disasters? Share your memories!
  • How were these stations as places to work in the ’60s and ’70s? What was the atmosphere like? How would you describe the working conditions?
  • Had Canwest not bought out KCND, would the station have survived? What might have its post-1975 history been like?

Fly the Golden Jets! Transair — Winnipeg’s Hometown Airline. It’s been about 30 years since Transair‘s gold-coloured fleet of Boeing 737s and Fokker F28s disappeared from the ramp at Winnipeg Airport. Founded in 1947 as Central Northern Airways and renamed Transair in 1956, the Winnipeg-based airline was a vital lifeline to many northern communities and carried many Winnipeggers to destinations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario until its merger with Calgary-based Pacific Western Airlines was completed in late 1979. It also had a Boeing 707 that it used for charters to Europe and Hawaii — which, according to one source, Transair managers conveniently managed to get out of town at times to keep it out of the hands of creditors.

Transair was also known as the first significant airline in Canada to hire a female pilot, and as the employer of a very young Peter Mansbridge, who worked at Transair’s Churchill station before going on to bigger and better things.

  • How was Transair for service — was it a good airline or a poor one? What memories do you have as a passenger?
  • How was the working atmosphere at Transair, particularly in light of the company’s struggle to survive in the ’70s?
  • How could Transair have survived or done better, if it could have done these things at all? What were its strengths and weaknesses?
  • How did the Transair-PWA merger go from an employee’s point of view?

Nude swimming at a City of Winnipeg pool in the ’80s? I heard by word of mouth that a City of Winnipeg public swimming pool was caught with its trunks down by a local newspaper in the ’80s when an intrepid reporter learned about a staff member’s by-invitation-only after-hours nude swimming club. I couldn’t find any written record of this story, but if it’s true, it would be worthy of an encore performance. Does anyone know any additional details?

Still the Troubled Y? In April 2008, Winnipeg’s Downtown YM-YWCA at 301 Vaughan St. was the subject of an unflattering article in the Winnipeg Free Press, which discussed the recreational facility’s problems with pepper spray attacks, drug deals, gang activity, vandalism and customer complaints about an indifferent management. Other member complaints that didn’t make the Free Press would also concern a lack of cleanliness, patrons asking others for sexual favours, and inattentive lifeguards. Having lost members to other Y branches, to a new fitness centre at the U of W and to the new Cindy Klassen Rec Centre, and about to face new competition from two new fitness centres in downtown Winnipeg — a GoodLife fitness centre scheduled to open at Portage and Main in April and the Sport for Life Centre preparing to open  in the East Exchange — can the Downtown Y survive?