Hundreds of Manitobans line up to get inside new IKEA store
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012 6:13AM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 28, 2012 6:10PM CST
Around 1,000 people lined up hours in advance to be the first ones through the doors of the new IKEA in Winnipeg, which officially opened on Nov. 28.
The store, which is the largest IKEA in western Canada, officially opened to the public at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, but the line-up started early Tuesday evening.
“Me and my aunt have been planning this since we heard IKEA was coming to Winnipeg,” said shopper Charmaine Laroche.
“I had no doubts (Winnipeggers) would be here and tremendously excited to participate in our store,” said Stephen Bobko, IKEA Winnipeg manager.
IKEA had parking security directing traffic and there were also police officers on hand.
A 2009 traffic study estimated an additional 29,000 to 36,000 cars could come through the area on a given day. The area already sees up to 60,000 vehicles a day.
That worries resident Penny Tallman.
“In rush hour, it’s miserable. It takes forever to get from one light to another. This is going to be really bad,” said Tallman.
Upgrades have already been made at the IKEA intersection as part of the overall development.
Mayor Sam Katz said no more specific changes are in the works to deal with traffic, other than a goal to eventually widen Kenaston Boulevard.
“Kenaston has to be widened from four lanes to six lanes – basically from Bishop Grandin all the way to Taylor, so that will help immensely,” said Katz.
Katz said a plan to widen Kenaston to six lanes remains a priority. That plan is being held up by a court battle between the federal government and a number of First Nations over the disputed Kapyong Barracks at Kenaston and Grant.
As CTV Winnipeg reported on Tuesday, a deal could soon be reached on Kapyong.
The commute around IKEA seemed to run smoothly during the opening.
Security directed traffic in and out of the 1,600 stall parking lot.
"I was a little worried at first because I didn't know what to expect with all the hype but it was very smooth sailing and I got a parking spot in minutes and in line in minutes," said Liz Lafourmaize, an IKEA customer.
But that smooth run could possibly be attributed to the fact some drivers avoided the area, knowing Wednesday was the big, IKEA opening day.
CTV Winnipeg’s traffic cameras recorded video showing long traffic lineups on other routes Wednesday.
IKEA customer Darlene Christie hopes things calm down once the initial hype wears off.
"I'm sure it will die down a little bit and become everyday traffic and nobody worrying about it,” said Christie.
The manager of IKEA says tackling traffic is part of the evolution of the store, saying that if problems arise around the development in the future, they will look at addressing them.
IKEA’s manager said about 15,000 people were expected to visit IKEA over a 12-hour period on its Nov. 28 opening.
IKEA said it wouldn’t be surprised if attendance also broke that number.