The day after I got home after travelling for five months around Central America, my younger sister was getting ready to go downtown to meet with her friends. I warned her that downtown Winnipeg is a terrifying place and that I feel uncomfortable with her going there.
My sister replied with "You just backpacked Central America alone, and you're more terrified of downtown at night than El Salvador?"
My simple reply was yes.
Growing up as a kid in the city, I was always told that downtown was a scary place filled with homeless people that want to rob you blind, and since my first year University three years ago, to me, downtown was still an ominous place.
It has been a little over a year since I've returned home, and downtown Winnipeg has seen some major changes since I've been gone.
These changes have not only shaped our downtown core architecturally, but it seems these buildings has breathed new life into our city's downtown culture.
Between the MTS center, The Winnipeg Hydro building and all the new apartment and restored buildings; life downtown isn't scary at all, it's thriving.
Downtown used to be sort of a only day time hour's place, with business people and empty buildings waiting for someone to inhabit them.
Downtown at night was deserted, and the people that were out were less than desirable to run into. But now, downtown on a night, when there's a concert, or if it's a nice summer night; is hardly desolate or scary.
Of all these visible changes, my favorite new change is the downtown day time clientele; the students.
The University of Winnipeg's four new buildings, and two new ones in the works, brings many eager learners to the downtown area.
Paired with Red River College's Princess street campus, and soon their new Culinary Arts building with student housing; downtown Winnipeg could quickly become a hub for post-secondary activity. These campuses create many job opportunities, activities, and the need for restaurants, cafes and bars.
After moving home, fearing the worst for our downtown infrastructure, the new changes are refreshing, beautiful to see and it make me a proud Winnipegger.
My childhood fears of downtown Winnipeg will hopefully soon completely fade, and be replaced with new, exciting school memories.