Osborne Village was once considered as a mildly sketchy and maybe even rough part of town. However in the last year or two it has become a hipster paradise due to the recent openings of American Apparel, HiFi Club, and the current cupcake fad. Scenesters mourned the demise of Die Maschine and the Collective as the end of an era, and it’s true: the neighbourhood could hardly get any more hipster than it currently is what with the rise of condo developments and the skyrocketing (and now impossible to find) apartment rents.
Since I was unable to continue to afford my rent in the area, I recently moved across the river to West Broadway. This seemed great for a number of reasons – closer to campus, closer to Cousin’s, and, so I thought, undiscovered by hipsters. I liked that the apartment block next to me was a Manitoba Housing complex and that everyone on the street has a bike. Sure, it was a bit nerve-racking when those escaped Saskatchewan prisoners showed up next door, but it kind of added to the charm of the area.
Which is why I was not impressed with the notice on my apartment door the other day care of Granite Gates (the management company that I discovered is quickly taking over the area in the hope of turning it into – you guessed it – a hipster paradise).
The notice asked me to, in the interest of keeping my “Granite Gates community safe,” complain to my local politicians about the behaviour of Manitoba Housing tenants. Now, I like a safe neighbourhood as much as the next person and would rather my building was not broken into. However, my problem with the notice was that it blatantly called for us to complain about the Manitoba Housing residents. Considering that last week friends of mine were firing fireworks off my front lawn I guess it’s a matter of opinion as to what qualifies as “rowdy” or “dangerous” behaviour.
The problem with the Granite Grates management is their blatant elitism by assuming that a) rowdiness must be associated with people living in the housing complex and b) that since the “rest of us” are assumed to be in a higher income bracket we should be conducting surveillance of them for the interest of “our safety.”
Gentrification is a massive problem in the downtown area and this is a classic case of it. By attempting to divide our communities into specific economic classes Winnipeg continues to ignore the problems of the downtown and inner city. Until we confront the issues and deal with them, we’re only going to continue to stigmatize our neighbours.