Council could look at making 'open streets' permanent
WINNIPEG -- To get people outside this summer, the city opened sections of streets to cyclists and pedestrians, while limiting access to drivers.
Cyclists like Gail MacDonald enjoyed the ‘open streets.’
"It was perfect. There's hardly any traffic. Everybody was out biking and walking. It was great, I loved it," said MacDonald.
One of the streets that were blocked off was Vialoux Drive in Charleswood, but the project ended on Sept. 7.
MacDonald said she was sad to see it go.
"Because there's not that many places around here that we can go for a bike ride and I don't like biking on the busy streets."
During the Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works meeting Wednesday, a motion was passed to bring back the nine open streets permanently, while adding five new streets to the list. The decision now falls into council's hands, and if passed, the streets would be ‘open’ from the May Long Weekend to Thanksgiving.
“It’s a great policy, very low-cost to the city, and tremendous benefit for Winnipeggers,” said Coun. Matt Allard, the city’s infrastructure chair.
The additional streets being considered are Glenwood Crescent, Ellen Street, Youville Street, Rosseau Avenue West, and two stretches of Alexander Avenue. Allard said he hopes these additional streets help address equity concerns by adding routes to areas of greater socioeconomic need.
However, not everyone likes the idea of this staying around as some drivers and homeowners don't want 'open streets' to come back.
"It was horrible. We had very nasty people," said Lynn Vandale, who is a homeowner in the area.
She said there were confrontations with cyclists and other people when trying to back out of their driveway.
"People were rude and angry if we didn't stop and let them by. Like very rude. They would say things and yell at us. It was pretty disconcerting considering we've paid out taxes for 40 years," said Vandale.
Allard said there will be growing pains, and council will address public feedback and data gathered in 2020.
MacDonald thinks if the streets become permanent, Winnipeggers can make it work.
"Well, I think we can share the road. Totally. I mean I think it's just a matter of being respectful to everybody," said MacDonald.
The city’s infrastructure committee has asked for a report in November for council to vote on.