Thursday, 20 April 2017

7 things The Forks is doing to help save the Earth + how you can help

Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day, the only day completely dedicated to appreciating our planet and all it does for us, even though it deserves our attention every day. Sort of like Mother’s Day, but for Mother Earth instead.

At The Forks, we do our best to make caring for the environment one of our top priorities with Target Zero. Our goal is a big one: zero garbage, zero water waste, and zero carbon emissions.

Here are 7 things we’re doing to help make Winnipeg a greener place.

1. Turning fries into fuel

Between all of the restaurants and fast food merchants on our site, we go through a lot of vegetable oil using the deep fryers. Instead of trashing it, we fuel our site maintenance vehicles with waste vegetable oil. By filtering the oil using a centrifuge and some modifications to engines, we have successfully operated our diesel equipment year-round.

Currently, our site truck, three of our gators, refrigerated reefer and Zamboni are all being fueled by waste vegetable oil. Eating another plate of fries is totally helping the environment.

2. Using a geothermal heat pump system

Our old HVAC system was on the fritz, so we took the opportunity to install a geothermal system that uses energy stored in the earth, the river and ground water and recycles the energy produced in The Forks Market.

Energy is collected from three separate wells. There are two large radiators sitting at the bottom of the Assiniboine River, and an open loop right underneath the southwest corner of the Market collecting energy from the ground water. All the ventilation in the Market was redesigned with efficient units that pre-heat the fresh air with recycled heat generated by the restaurants. We also installed 53 heat pumps throughout the Market to efficiently distribute heating and cooling.

This may sound boring, but what it means is since its installation, we’ve cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 42% – preventing 448 tonnes of CO2e from being released into the atmosphere. That’s heavier than nearly 200 rhinos. If air pollution came in the form of an angry rhino, there might not be an air pollution problem.

3. Composting old stuff to grow new stuff

We generate a lot of organic waste here between the food merchants, restaurants, hotel and yard trimmings. Eighty percent of our “garbage” is compostable. Our in-vessel composter BIOVATORTM creates perfect conditions for trillions of microbes and bacteria to digest organic matter. This process creates a nutrient-rich compost that we use as top-dressing and soil amendment in our gardens.

Right now, we’re looking into finding a way to help our visitors minimize their environmental impact while enjoying The Forks. These plans include composting bins near all trash bins and getting our vendors using 100% compostable plates, cutlery and napkins.

4. Reducing water use when you gotta use it

We installed low-flow toilets and waterless urinals to reduce our water use. Each urinal saves over 150,000 litres of water per year. Together with the low-flow toilets, these changes save the building over 2 million litres of water annually.

5. Getting on our bikes and riding

A true sign of spring is when you can bike to The Forks without hitting any icy patches. We’ve been expanding our bike paths to make it easier for you to get here without fuelling up. Once you’re here, we’re also your one-stop bike shop: rent or buy a new set of wheels from White Pine Bicycle Co., spend some quality time with friends on a Bee2gether tandem bike, or give your aluminum steed some love with the bike service station in front of The Forks Market.

6. Using our local, natural resources

Our irrigation systems use river water throughout the site – that includes water that keeps the lawn green and the crokicurl icy. We also installed two large rainwater tanks in our parkade, which we use to maintain our ice skating surfaces in the winter. With these initiatives plus the toilets, The Forks Market alone saves three Olympic-sized pools of water every year!

7. Making like trees and leaf-ing them to grow

We’ve planted 500+ trees in the last 10 years, but we’re not stopping there! We’re continuing so we can keep greening our site and offsetting carbon. Our home is a beautiful place, and it’s only getting lovelier with our urban garden, public orchard and prairie garden, PLUS all those fabulous shade-giving friends.

Here’s how you can be greener on your next visit to The Forks:

• Bring a tote bag to carry your shopping
Bike here! 
• Bring a re-usable mug or bottle for your drink
• Check out merchants that sell sustainable and organic products, like
          Generation Green or 
Grass Roots Prairie Kitchen
• Go vintage – shop the antique mall at Johnston Terminal instead of buying new

We’re offering four free Target Zero Eco Tours on Saturday at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m.  

The tour stops at hot spots like the BIOVATORTM, the geothermal loops, and the rain water collectors. Check out all the event info here.

Let’s get outside today and appreciate our planet– especially now that Winnipeg is starting to turn from grey to green. Happy Earth Day!

By Diana Chabai, The Forks Marketing + Communications Intern

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Micro Brews + Micro Bites

“Would you like a micro glass of wine or micro coffee with your micro entrée? Alright, I’ll be back with that in a micro-second!” is just a snippet of what you may hear your average-sized server offer at The Forks’ new micro restaurant.

One thing we’re always aiming to do here at The Forks is stay on-point with trends, and if we look to what’s cool on the West Coast, it’s micro restaurants absolutely exploding the food scene – serving these amazingly tiny dishes – and we want to be on the leading edge of bringing what’s trendy to Winnipeg.

The concept is exactly as it sounds: the entire fine-dining experience scaled down to miniature size, with exquisitely crafted and executed dishes that not only satisfy on the flavour front, but impress with detailed plating and presentation

This is a food trend that puts culinary talent to the test. It’s absolutely astounding to see the technique these chefs employ to be able to execute these micro dishes. It’s a really neat concept – you get the experience of feeling truly larger than life.

In the heart of Winnipeg, a city known for its foodie vibe and tremendous chef talent, The Forks expects this new restaurant will surely be a treat for locals, and will also draw foodies from far and wide.

We haven't officially signed on a restauranteur, and we're also currently sourcing a local ceramic artist to commission the custom serving pieces. Looking forward to the restaurant opening in 2018!

April Fools! 

Have you read about the mural in the Food Hall?

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The scenic loop: running at The Forks

One of the best ways for me to instantly feel better is to go for a run. I run a couple times a week from my studio in the Exchange to The Forks. I love running. It gets the cobwebs out. I feel lighter, energized and relaxed all at the same time. It is my most consistent tool. It resets me.

I am a social runner, I enjoy chatting and running. It is one of my favourite ways to spend time with people I care about. My best friend and I have scheduled twice weekly runs. It’s pretty fantastic. We get to hang out, do something great for our bodies and work out whatever is on our minds. It’s a win-win-win situation. On weekends, my husband and I lace up and tour around. It’s pretty awesome to have my favourite people double as my running buddies.

My running route is a scenic and beautiful tour of downtown Winnipeg centred around The Forks. It connects different distinct neighbourhoods. In my 30 minute run I tour The Exchange, Waterfront Drive, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Esplanade Riel Bridge, the historic rail bridge at The Forks, St Boniface Hospital, and the St Boniface Cathedrale. The trail hugs the river which is beautiful in all seasons. I often think of  the river as the living part of downtown- the ice, the melting, the currents, it’s always alive. I enjoy the process of watching the snow and ice melt and the green reappear.

There are very few times when we are away from phones, computers and to do lists. When I’m out on my loop the only thing I have to worry about is putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. It’s so simple and beautiful.

To help you get started and explore my favourite loop, I put together my top five tips for you to start running at The Forks:

1.     Make a plan. Not a runner? Start by walking. The Couch to 5K app is helpful in that it gives you a walk to run ratio building up over time. Commit to days and times. Use the historic rail bridge at The Forks as your starting point of the 3 km loop. Follow it to the Norwood Bridge, along the path behind St Boniface Hospital, along Tache Ave. and across the Esplanade Bridge back to the Forks. This base loop connects to many different active transportation routes: Assiniboine Ave, Lyndale Drive, North Winnipeg parkway, and the Seine River. Exploring is part of the fun!

2.     Invest in good shoes. You need one piece of official equipment for this sport - invest properly. Start with a brand new, properly fitted pair of shoes that are made for running. Not your old ones from 1997 aerobics step class. This helps prevent injury. Seriously, I have the bunions and multiple lost toenails to back this up. Check out Canadian Footwear or Running Room. The shoe experts can connect you with the proper shoes to support your body so you an have a comfortable running experience.

3.     What to wear. Weather-wise, it’s still quite a mixed bag. After running all winter, spring running feels like a tropical dream! You really only need one layer on the bottom - pants! And up top, two layers. Ladies - a good sports bra goes a long way. Also, zipper pockets are pretty important to carry keys and phones.

4.     Technology + Tunes. For keeping track of my runs, I like to use Runkeeper. Music? I am a super social runner (see #5) I run alone 10% of the time and when I do, I prefer the peace and quiet and watching the world pass me by. But, I think I’m a bit alone on this, many people love music when they run, pumping them up and having a party of one. I asked my friend and runner Rachael to give me her top five pump up running songs:
1. Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder
2. B-Boys In the Cut by Beastie Boys
3. Wake Up by Arcade Fire
4. Queen B*tch by David Bowie and
5. The Choice is Yours by Black Sheep.
If you’re a set it and forget it kind of person, Google Play music is super helpful in curating just the right playlist for you. You type in one song or artist and it will curate a playlist based on that.

5.     Buddy up! I’m social. It’s not JUST exercising, it’s visiting time. I also like appointments for things. Making a regular commitment to meet someone to walk or run helps to keep you consistent. When someone is expecting you, you are much more likely to be consistent. Work downtown? Make plans with an office pal to go for a lunchtime jaunt.

There you have it! And don’t forget to stretch after every run. Here are some basic stretches and yoga moves from Runner’s World that are helpful in promoting flexibility and reducing injury. Can’t wait to see you out on the loop this spring!

Lindsay Somers is a lifestyle health coach in Winnipeg. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram. All photos my Mark Reimer.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Shawl Dancer: a mural at The Forks

Photo by Synonym Art Consultation 

At one end of the Food Hall in The Forks Market, Synonym Art Consultation artist Storm Angeconeb has transformed a construction zone into a beautiful mural.

Photo by Joseph Visser

Storm said she was so excited to do this piece, and really wanted it to reflect her Ojibwe culture. She is originally from Lac Seul First Nation, but mostly raised in Winnipeg.

Photo by Joseph Visser

The artwork depicts a First Nations woman – the namesake of the piece, The Shawl Dancer. Birds are shown breaking through a brightly coloured geometric background.

Photo by Joseph Visser

Storm shared that she often uses birds as a symbolic representation of herself in her work. For this piece particularly, she said she wanted the birds to be a representation of growth. She feels the location at The Forks, a historic landmark on Treaty One territory, is the perfect fit for this piece.

Photo by Joseph Visser

The artwork is expected to be up at least until summer 2017 while construction of local coffee shop, Fools + Horses Coffee Co.’s second location is underway at the opposite end of The Forks Market Food Hall from The Common beer and wine kiosk. 

Photo by Synonym Art Consultation 

StormAngeconeb is a young, emerging visual artist participating in both murals and mentorship programs (Graffiti Art Programming, Wall-to-Wall Mural & CultureFestival, mentoring under Winnipeg artist KC Adams) throughout the past couple years. She’s learning to adapt her skills to paint in diverse mediums on a range of surfaces from walls to light boxes. Storm is eager to

pursue a post-secondary education in fine arts in fall, 2017.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Empanadas & Co. is the way to go!

You might have tried the empanadas at Simon's Cuisine when they first opened in the Food Hall last year...but they've added a whole new slate of empanada flavours under their new name, Empanadas & Co. by Simon's Cuisine.

So naturally, we went down and tried one of each. The results? DELISH.

They still offer the old reliables - traditional flavours including beef, spinach + ricotta, chicken and straight-up cheese. But taking a peek into the offerings under the Gourmet heading you'll see the likes of Breakfast (with scrambled eggs, bacon + cheddar cheese), Chorizo (spicy chorizo sausage, jalapeno + mozzarella), Chicken Parmigiana (chicken, tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham), Blue (blue cheese, mozzarella + fig), Hawaiian (mozzarella, ham + pineapple), Bacon Cheese Burger (beef, bacon + cheddar cheese). And a few dessert empanadas, including the Manzana (apple pie), and Frutilla (sweet strawberry)...mmm!

You can choose whether you have your empanadas baked or deep fried (but really, if you're indulging, you really might as well get 'em deep fried).

In addition to the many empanada choices, the sandwiches at Empanadas & Co. are out of this world. Jose, the owner let us taste-test a little bite of the grilled beef tenderloin before we fully committed to the Gaucho sandwich, and it was deliciously seasoned and juicy. The sandwich itself was topped with provolone cheese, arugula, a sunny-side up egg (cause for many napkins!!!), and a nice little kick from the horseradish mayo.

We splurged and went for the crispy fries too, some with the Provenzal sauce (parsley, garlic, olive oil, sea salt - amazing). These are no ordinary side of fries...something about that extra crispy crunch is super satisfying.

And of course we washed it all down with a brew from the rotating tap at The Common - the Beau's Strong Patrick Irish Red Ale - to keep it multi-cultural.

What's your favourite on the Empanadas & Co. menu? What do you recommend we try next?!

Friday, 3 March 2017

How to Crokicurl

If you've been to The Forks this winter, you might wonder what that giant ice rink bullseye equipped with curling rocks situated at The Plaza is... Or, if you're Manitoban, you might just intuitively know: it's Crokicurl!

Crokicurl is the brainchild of Public City Architecture, and combines two iconic Canadian pastimes: crokinole and curling, to become an exciting new outdoor sport for all ages.

The object of the game is to accumulate the most points through shooting the rock into the center button and positioning the rocks on the playing surface so they remain within the highest scoring circle at the end of the round.

The Rules:

• The game is played with two teams. Each team is composed of 1-2 players. Teams of 1 play from opposing quadrants. For teams of 2, players from the same team play from opposing quadrants. Each player is limited to 1 quadrant. Each team has 4 rocks of the same colour.

• A crokicurl shot is accomplished by firmly sliding a rock onto the playing surface, releasing before the halfway point of the starting line. The rock may be played from any point within the assigned quadrant. Players are permitted to place their feet against the side rail while shooting the rock.

• The first player will try to score 20 points with their shot. If the rock successfully lands completely within the button it is removed and set aside to count as 20 points at the end of the round.

• Subsequent shots attempt to remove an opponent rock from the playing surface, unless there are no rocks on the playing surface. If the rock fails to make contact with an opponent rock, the rock is removed from the game. At the same time, each player attempts to make a 20 point shot difficult for the opposing team.

• Whenever possible, each player seeks to score 20 points by shooting a rock into the center button.

• No player may enter the coloured point rings during game play until all rocks have been played by both teams and scoring is being determined. The exception to this is when a team scores 20 points with their rock entering the button.

• Players may not change quadrants during a round.

• Play proceeds in a clockwise fashion, alternating each team and player.

• A rock that lands more than halfway over the outer edge of the starting line will be removed from game play.

• Scoring occurs after all rocks have been played. Teams play to a per-determined score. The player or team with the higher score wins the round. The winner of the match is determined by the team who wins the most rounds, best of 1, 3, 5, 7, etc.

• Losing team treats winning team to mini donuts or a round of drinks from The Common.

Rocks are accessed on a first come, first served basis. Please be respectful of other players and limit your time to one hour.

Crokicurl FUN FACTS: 
• Junior curling rocks used to play Crokicurl weigh 20lbs - half the weight of a normal curling rock
• After its debut in Winnipeg in 2017, Crokicurl rinks popped up across the country, including Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Yukon
• Northern-most Crokicurl rink: Dawson City, Yukon
• Litres of water pumped from the river to create the rink: 37,000

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Get on your fat bikes + ride!

Winter/spring shoulder season is a tough one in Winnipeg. We can have a blizzard on Monday and patio beers on Friday. It’s always a challenge to wait out the last blasts of winter to transition to spring, but I found a surprisingly fun thing to do that works no matter what the bananas March weather brings: fat biking.

Have you seen these bikes around town? As you might guess, they have comically large tires—quite impossible to miss if you’ve ever seen them. People have been cruising on them all winter along the Red River Mutual Trail. When I found out they are available to rent from White Pine Bicycle Company in the Johnston Terminal (and it's pretty affordable - only $25 for up to 5 hours), I had to check it out!

A fat tire bike is shockingly stable and secure. It’s one of the easiest bikes you’ll ever ride. I was immediately at ease, maneuvering safely and easily through snow, ice, mud, and puddles. I felt like I was riding the tank of bikes—the tires gripped the ground like Velcro. Riding this bike was akin to that satisfying indestructible spring feeling of walking through puddles in rubber boots times 100. So fun.

There are many trails to explore on a bike when you start at The Forks. We rode along the Assiniboine River and hit up some single-track trails behind the Granite Curling Club. Then we looped around on my favourite 5K active transportation loop connecting the Exchange District, downtown, The Forks, and St Boniface. The are many trails to explore that connect to The Forks, and White Pine Bicycle Company carries various maps to help you plan your route. 

Dressing for this season is always tricky. Layers are always recommended, and on warmer, milder days, bring water protection! Our ride was wet and messy, exactly how spring should be!

Nothing completes a good bike ride quite like a refreshing cold beer. Lucky for us, we had one of those unusual warm spring days, which meant patio beers! It was a great afternoon spent exploring the city in a brand new, active way. This is how you do spring in Winnipeg.

Lindsay Somers is a Lifestyle Health Coach in Winnipeg. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter. All photos by Mark Reimer

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Lunch Skate Date

Last week, I gathered some friends together for a lunchtime skate date. I extended the invite online through the hashtag #lunchskatedate and other Internet-friend lunch-hour adventurers joined us! It was perfectly timed, as the Red River Mutual Trail had just re-opened after being closed due to an unusually warm January week. As an extra bonus, we were able to explore some of the brand new warming huts!

It was one of those perfectly sunny winter days in Winnipeg: blue skies, crisp air and blazing sunshine. It filled my heart to see so many people stepping away from their desks for fresh air, pals and frosty beers! Pro tip: if you live or work on the west side of downtown, you can access the Red River Mutual Trail from the Osborne Bridge.

Skating is one of those activities that you can do in a group and still go at your own pace. Its a great leisure winter activity for all. Slow and steady or fancy backward crosscuts, were all on the same ice together.

It felt so good to be out in the sun breathing in the fresh air. I often think of The Forks as our downtown active community hub. Its not that difficult to zip out to trade in your cubicle’s fluorescent lights for some sunshine on the Red River Mutual Trail.

We skated through the new warming hut "Open Borders" created by Joyce de Grauw and Paul van den Berg from Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The warming huts are great public art installations. Designers from around the world compete to have their designs built. Brilliantly staggered along the river, they pop up along the ice trail, making for great rest stops to explore and relax your skate legs.

Skating is one of the best "visiting activities." Its not too intense, and you can just glide along while carrying a conversation (and forget that its exercise!).

We capped off our skate with lunch at The Common. Nothing like an après skate with an ice-cold beer! The lunch possibilities are endless at The Forks: soup, burgers, sushi, curry, noodles; you name itits there. And theres always a new restaurant popping up.

It really is the best way to spend a winter lunch break. Everyone trotted back to their offices feeling lighter, energized and happier. That was actually super fun and super easy,reported one skater on his way back to work. I feel SO good,said another.

Why not beat those winter blahs and sluggish afternoons by gathering your co-workers, boss and downtown friends and zipping over to The Forks for a #lunchskatedate!

And, if standing on metal blades in the middle of a frozen river still scares you a bit, I have good news! The Forks is offering Suds + Buds skate lessons from 8 - 9 pm every Wednesday night in February hosted by moi! All levels are welcome. Ill work with you to build your confidence out on the ice so you can enjoy one of our citys greatest winter gifts! Life is too short NOT to try it. Come on, itll be fun!

Lindsay Somers is a Lifestyle Health Coach in Winnipeg. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter. All photos by Mark Reimer.