This comes as a huge blow to Downtown, and Portage Avenue specifically, only a week before the street will buzz like it hasn’t in many years, when the new Winnipeg Jets play their first official home game against the Montreal Canadians on October 9. Meanwhile, the news that the old A&B Sound Building has been cleared for demolition—making room for a shiny new office and hotel complex, was of little consolation in light of Air Canada’s announcement.
Was Air Canada’s decision overblown? Probably. But any time a business pulls people out of the Downtown area because of safety concerns, these concerns need to be taken seriously. Funny how an internal company memo can open such a Pandora’s Box: crime, gang violence, addiction, homelessness, the reserve system…. Sam Katz can stomp his fists all he wants and demand that Air Canada reverse their decision, but his denial of these problems doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
As a side note, it was disheartening to see Hugh McFadyen jump on this story, proclaiming Air Canada’s decision as proof of the NDP’s failures. Really? Fuck Hugh.