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'Excited for it to reopen': Disability advocates weigh in on Portage and Main plan

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Disability advocates are looking forward to the possibility of Winnipeg’s iconic intersection reopening to pedestrians.

On Friday, Winnipeg mayor Scott Gillingham announced his plan to reopen Portage and Main to pedestrians by summer 2025.

The Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) and Barrier-Free Manitoba said the move will make the intersection more accessible and easier to navigate.

“I’m kind of excited for it to reopen,” said MLPD executive director Melissa Graham. “I think it would be a big step towards bringing greater accessibility and inclusion to downtown and to the city.”

“It’s a way to tell people with disabilities they’re welcome in our downtown.”

Barrier-Free Manitoba spokesperson David Kron said his organization has been advocating reopening Portage and Main for some time.

“It really makes life a lot easier if we could just cross without having to go through the circus and try to find if the doors are open or if the elevator’s working,” Kron said.

Kron and Graham said the current underground pathway is confusing and can make it hard to get around, whether or not people are living with a disability.

“It should be a two minute crossing, as opposed to a 20-minute Odyssey,” Kron said.

In his announcement Friday, Gillingham said he’s working alongside Coun. Sherri Rollins to draft a motion that recommends the city open Portage and Main to pedestrian crossings by next summer to coincide with the launch of the city’s new transit network.

The decision comes after a new city report on traffic impacts and associated costs of repairing the waterproof membrane underneath the road surface outlines four to five years of construction-related delays and could cost at least $73 million.

 

- With files from CTV’s Katherine Dow

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