Winnipeg’s downtown shines on the International stage in 2015

By Stefano Grande and Sachit Mehra

It’s been an incredible year for our City.

With FIFA Women’s World Cup drawing in thousands of Americans, Australians, and international tourists into the City and the CFL’s 103rd Grey Cup showdown between the Edmonton Eskimos and Ottawa Redblacks, the perception of Winnipeg and its downtown was elevated, making it the place to be this year. Our belief in our city was confirmed by National Geographic, who ranked Winnipeg as one of the best places to visit in the world. This does not happen by chance – it is a result of all of the buzz and hype that’s created with major events like FIFA and Grey Cup, and with the abundance of tourists and locals taking in the experience. We are North America’s best kept secret.

Hotels were booked solid, restaurants were ready and eager to serve food and drink, and Winnipeggers were proud and pumped to take part in the atmosphere. The energy and pride was felt on sidewalks, and could be seen if peered in the windows of downtown establishments. Through our partnership with the City of Winnipeg, downtown was spotless, clean, and inviting, as the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s hundreds of staff and volunteers hit the streets with the goal of providing a safe, clean and welcoming environment. Getting to and from the downtown, too, was made easier with support from Winnipeg Transit and initiatives like a free downtown circulator. The business community put out its welcome mat to the rest of the world.

When FIFA rolled into the City, Winnipeggers were treated to seven world-class matches. The elite teams, coaching staff, family and friends arrived in Winnipeg from places as far as Sweden, Nigeria, USA, Australia, Thailand, Germany, China, Ecuador, Japan and New Zealand. Welcome to the centre of the continent!

The US soccer team was seen out-and-about signing autographs and walking around our downtown, with young fans waiting on the street corners to see their favourite players. And the international media was here too, broadcasting stories of Winnipeg and FIFA across the oceans. Our city was buzzing with kids and families wanting to feel the vibe of the tournament.

The 103rd Grey Cup, too, was a week-long Canadian-style party, bringing CFL fans from across this great country. Perhaps more party-hardy than the normal sporting fan and aficionado, Grey Cup attendees are enthusiastically devoted to the sport of football, with many fans who were spotted shopping for that perfect souvenir to bring home to their loved ones. With all the Saskatchewan fans from out of town wearing their Roughriders colour, one would swear their team was in the final!

These national and international sporting events were important for many reasons, in increasing the visibility and enhancing the image of our city. This all plays into creating a positive psyche for Winnipeggers too. And the direct and indirect economic spin-offs are important. Combined, according to Economic Development Winnipeg estimates, these two events will contribute over $124 million to our local economy. Sport is big businesses, and we are hitting on all cylinders.

We often hear that density is critical for the success of our downtown. Residential density is key, office density brings our downtown alive during the day, and our downtown is indeed undergoing a great re-birth. But the density of national and international events is truly magical. It transforms places over a short period of time, and introduces visitors to our great city and their perceptions are made, here in our city centre. Our historical buildings, our Exchange District, The Forks and waterfront, and the diversity of our core truly are unique and world-class, and we should be proud. Some visitors came early, others decided to stay longer. Our restaurants, retail and nightlife deliver truly Winnipeg flavour and provide great memories. The economic impact is instant and dramatic.

Hats off to all those involved, our political leaders, our FIFA and Grey Cup champions and volunteers. 2015 will be a year to remember, perhaps the year that serves as a reminder that we have a world class City, which has finally arrived.

Sachit Mehra is the Chair of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Management Board and Stefano Grande is the Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

School Zone – December 2015

In case you missed anything – a roundup of facts we picked up last month

Assiniboine Community College
Assiniboine Community College and the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology sign MOU

Assiniboine Community College (ACC) and the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding. This MOU opens the door for ACC and MITT to more formally collaborate, which will accelerate the pace at which new and existing program partnerships can be discussed and implemented.

Paul Holden, the President and CEO of MITT said during the signing that “There’s never been a more pivotal time for educational institutions to work together to develop new, relevant and integrated programs; to create better outcomes for students, for employers, and for Manitoba. With 75,000 new people likely to join the provincial work force by 2025, the need to develop relevant training for the next generation is absolutely critical. Assiniboine and MITT recognize this need and we’re actively working in sync to prepare the workforce of tomorrow for the workplace of tomorrow.”
Continue reading School Zone – December 2015

The must have (economic) trend of the holiday season!

by Michael Silicz

Ho ho ho – the holiday season is finally here! And you know what that means… It’s that time of year where, rather than relax with family and reconnect with old friends, we’re likely scrambling to purchase last minute gifts for those we care about. Collectively, many of us are trying desperately to show our love to friends and family by purchasing this holiday season’s must have holiday trend, gadget or gizmo for them.

So, what is the must have gift this year? Is it new Star Wars memorabilia? What about Elf on the Shelf? Or could it be organic beard balm for your hipster husband?

Well, these gifts may very well be the it gifts of the year, but as a financial guy, I really have no idea.

What I do know is economics, finance and policy. (Maybe this is why I am often seated at the end of the table during the holidays… hmm.) And when it “Streetnomics” (you know, the kind of ideas you learn in the real world on the street, as opposed to the abstract stuff we’re taught in university), the people out there can’t stop but talking about the latest craze: behavioural finance.

Behavioural finance is the “it” (for economists) this holiday season. It’s the Saint Kardashian of the economic world. It is, in terms of growing followers, the Khole of Instagram. Here’s the Coles notes of what you need to know to impress your family and friends this holiday season.

First though, it’s important to be reminded quickly of last (century’s) trend. In a nutshell, holiday pun intended, “rational expectation” economics of the past assumes that you and I are like the Architect in the Matrix, able to perfectly know what’s in our best interest all of the time. From deciding between buying a Big Mac or Teen Burger, or whether to invest in a bank stock or ETF, this theory assumes we are always making the best decision possible with all information available to us.

Well friends, the coolest, hippest economists out there are calling this theory into question. They believe that it’s about as real as Santa Clause. Enter behavioural economics.

Out of American university thought (hence the incorrect spelling) comes behavioural economics. It seeks to study the effects of psychological, social, cognitive, and emotional factors on the economic decisions of people and the consequences of them on market prices, returns, and resource allocation. Whereas traditional economic models of the past have assume markets to be efficient and always right, behavioural economics assumes that knowledge is imperfect, that said perfect information is not available, and that humans are ultimately bound to make mistakes. Putting it in street terms, people are not rational like machines, and will often make obvious economic mistakes that are contrary to their own self-interest.

This is big, exciting and powerful news for so many reasons! This new theory argues that people are more emotional than rational, hence leading to all sort of “biases” that introduce poor decisions into our lives. Rather than think like a computer, in this modern day where we are overwhelmed with choice and information, this theory argues that we make emotional decisions first, and then use rationality to justify them. How cool is that?

Behavioural economics has three main themes. First, people often make decisions based on approximate rules of thumb and not strict logic. This means that rather than compute things like Data in The Next Generation, people rely things they already believe that may or may not be true. Second, people “frame” their decisions through a collection of anecdotes and stereotypes that make up the mental emotional filters which they rely on to understand and respond to events. Last, and the most geeky, behavioural finance’s most important point relates to financial markets and how these biases create mis-pricings and non-rational decision making. In streetnomics, that means people in the market make all kinds of mistakes, leading to opportunities to profit. But more on that another day…

Bottom line, with so much information (and more importantly, misinformation), it is impossible to be rational and hence market irrationality is introduced into the system. Going back to The Matrix Reload, to quote the Architect, “as you so adequately put, the problem is choice.” Because of choice, behavioural economics and finance is the in topic this year – aren’t you glad you’re now in the know?

So, this holiday season, when you see people freaking out for some creepy shelf elf or spending hundreds of dollars on Star Wars Lego at higher than market price, you’ll now be able to understand, using streetnomics, why they’re being so irrational! By knowing the latest and greatest (economic) trend of the 2015 holiday season, you can now relax, unwind, and be the one in the know at your next holiday gathering.

Happy holidays!

Michael Silicz helps people separate the signal from the noise. He has experience in finance, law and public policy. If you have any column ideas or would like to see Michael write about a specific topic, email him at

Massage spa helps customers to Live Right

Throughout the holiday season and into the New Year, many people allow themselves the luxury of relaxing and treating themselves. One such way is through massage and other related spa treatments.
Massage has long been proven to be good not only for the body, but the mind as well. Daryn Chernick, president and owner of Live Right Massage & Facial Spa says that too often, people wait too long before seeking massage treatment.

“Normally when you go to a spa, clients just book in for a single appointment,” said Daryn. “They don’t end up feeling healed, because they wait until they hurt, which is too late. The reason that employers give benefits to their workers is to allow them to get regular maintenance and to prevent them from getting sore or injured. This allows them to feel better, have more work days and have more enjoyment out of life. With our membership program, we help you get more massages out of the same amount of benefits in one year so you feel your best.”

Live Right offers a membership package unlike any other spa in Winnipeg, allowing customers to use their pre-paid services towards any spa treatment of their choosing. Focusing on body and skin care, the spa offers massage, facials, waxing, sugaring, steam and other some special body treatments.

Many of Daryn’s clients have been booking in for the holidays as a way of using up their benefits. Many work places, and most colleges and universities in Manitoba, include massages in their benefits packages, but they don’t roll over from year to year.

Catered to your needs and schedule
Born and raised in Winnipeg, not far from Live Right’s Taylor Avenue location, Daryn had used the benefits of massage for a while, but it wasn’t until recently that he saw the potential to make his own business in the industry. After living and going to school at DeVry in Calgary for a while, Daryn returned to Winnipeg. He worked with his family with Westco for a number of years, before seeking a career where he could help people and contribute to their overall wellness. He opened Live Right in November of 2014.
“I love it here. I love the changes in the seasons, I love the people, I love the small town in a big town mentality.”

Live Right came to be with help from the Manitoba START program and the Manitoba small business loan program. Live Right also takes on apprentices through Apprenticeship Manitoba.

Live Right was the first spa of its kind in Winnipeg to utilize the membership program, where people can sign up and use their membership fee towards any number of specialized treatments.
“We give a loyalty discount through the membership, and allow our customers to contribute for as long as they want without having to worry about coming in every month. Your monthly pre-paids do not expire, so you can save up a few and have a really great spa day if you wish.”

“It’s very flexible, and we’ve made it as easy as possible for people to come to a place where they’re seeing the same therapist that clearly understands their needs, and can put them on a treatment plan. That helps them to feel better with whatever issue they have. They also remind them to come more regularly so that they don’t only come after they’re already feeling bad, it keeps them feeling good and productive.”

Live Right Massage & Facial Spa is located at 1-1190 Taylor Avenue. To learn more about their services or to book an appointment, visit or call (204) 284-LIVE (5483)

A new place to Feast in Winnipeg’s West End

Feast Café Bistro, at 587 Ellice Avenue, hosted its grand opening celebration on December 10. Feast is the first of its kind in Winnipeg, a licensed First Nations café bistro. The grand opening ceremony ushered in a new era for the former Ellice Café and Theatre.

“We are so excited to finally have our doors open, to welcome in the community, and to start this new journey in the West End,” said Feast owner Christa Bruneau-Guenther.

The grand opening ceremony featured a traditional First Nations honour song to bless the building. It also included a Christian blessing ceremony and ribbon cutting. Live music played throughout the evening, with acoustic performances by local musician Rena Semenko. Following the formal program, Feast hosted a public open house where guests got to sample menu items, enter a draw, and meet Bruneau-Guenther and her staff.

Feast is 100% First Nations owned and operated, and is located in the same building as the Adam Beach Film Institute and Bandwidth Theatre. Bruneau-Guenther is co-owner of the entire building with Adam beach, Jim Compton and Jeremy Torrie. Beach, who is known for his roles in Hollywood, was among those in attendance at the opening.

The building owners are committed to carrying on the legacy of Ellice Café and Theatre owner Harry Lehotsky and New Life Ministries. Lehotsky opened the Ellice Café and Theatre in 2005, and died of cancer in 2006. His wife Virigina was there at the opening to help open the new venue. Feast intends to give back to their community with a special focus on youth, mental health and nutrition.

“The Ellice Café was a community meeting point, and we hope Feast can bring that sense of togetherness back while celebrating the great food and traditional culture of First Nations people,” says Bruneau-Guenther. “What’s more Canadian than food grown right here in this province for hundreds of years?”

Feast’s menu consists of familiar comfort food infused with traditional First Nation ingredients like wild rice, berries, wild game and bannock. Feast is open Monday to Thursday 8-4, Fridays and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and is closed on Sundays. Feast also plans to open for special events and private functions on weeknights.