Winnipeg gets advice from a ‘one man committee’

Local blogger emphasizes small-scale development in quest for civic policy changes

Lawyer by day, blogger by night: For over a year, Walter Krawec has chronicled his observations of urban life in Winnipeg on his blog One Man Committee. Cindy Titus/Uniter Archives

When it comes to cities, the devil is in the details, says local blogger Walter Krawec.

“A little shop opens up on the corner, a building comes down to make way for parking; those are pretty small things in the grand scheme,” Krawec, a 32-year-old lawyer and public policy expert, says over an Americano at a small Exchange District coffee shop.

“But they do provide an indication of the general direction in which things are moving.”

For over a year, through his blog One Man Committee, Krawec has meticulously chronicled his impressions and observations of urban life in Winnipeg.

And, by emphasizing the importance of everything from modernist architecture at the Winnipeg airport to the obtrusive presence of yield lanes on Main Street, Krawec hopes to distinguish himself from other urban bloggers while inspiring Winnipeggers to think critically.

“I try to chronicle some of the small things that might go unnoticed by the media, (or) by other urbanist blogs. A lot of what happens in this city can be measured by looking at the details,” he says, adding that he loves walking around Winnipeg’s neighbourhoods with his digital camera at the ready.

Krawec first became intimately interested in cities 10 years ago during an undergraduate course at the University of Winnipeg, where city politics professor Christopher Leo introduced him to the works of influential urban theorist Jane Jacobs.

Due to the influence of Jacobs and others, Krawec maintains Winnipeg should facilitate more small-scale development in order to breathe new life into the core area.

“We’ve heard several stories about the red tape that can just paralyze small entrepreneurs. It’s easy to see how government can be a hindrance in that regard,” he says.

However, unlike some of his blogger counterparts, Krawec is optimistic about government-driven attempts to revitalize the downtown core.

“The government has supported a lot of projects that made downtown Winnipeg, and the city generally, a better place,” he says, adding that he looks to Edmonton, where he received his law degree from the University of Alberta, as a model for successful revitalization.

“In the 1990s, downtown Edmonton was not unlike downtown Winnipeg in the sense that things had an air of stagnancy.”

Krawec emphasizes that the successful changes in Edmonton were driven by investments in residential development.

He has been a major proponent of the Waterfront Drive condominium developments, the Avenue Building re-development along Portage Avenue as well as the renovation of the Union Bank Tower in order to house Red River College students on Main Street.

Krawec’s optimism is refreshing for those who have become weary of civic criticism. Still, he maintains there is plenty of work to be done to create a dense urban environment in Winnipeg and that Centre Venture Development Corporation’s Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment (SHED) development plan is not enough to rescue the downtown. 

“Centre Venture and large city developments are only half the story.”

You can read Walter Krawec’s blog at or listen to him on the University of Manitoba’s UMFM 101.5 Internet Pundits radio program.

Published in Volume 66, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 19, 2011)

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