A plan to install a $7-million decorative fence along two blocks of Route 90 landed with a thud at city hall this morning.
The proposal from the Chamber of Commerce was accepted as "information" only – the equivalent of throwing it in drawer -- at public works committee, with no direction as to how, or if, the initiative should be moved forward.
"This was just another gathering of information – it’s not a project ready to hit the road yet," Coun. Justin Swandel, committee chairman, said following the meeting.
Chamber Way is a plan to beautify the two-block stretch of Route 90, between Ness and St. Matthews avenues, with a nine-foot high solid wall fence, accent lighting, landscaping and large banners promoting interesting things to do in Winnipeg.
The report was brought to city hall by the civic administration but the committee did not give the administration any direction on what to do with the proposal.
The committee’s move was far less than what Chamber president Dave Angus had, a few minutes earlier, asked them to do: direct the administration to pursue the project.
"I’m not further confident the city wants to push forward to work with us and other stakeholders to find a solution," Angus said, adding however, the Chamber will quietly pursue the project on its own, speaking with residents, and the province and private business to secure funding.
"This was all supposed to be a positive project, finding a way to beautify this route and portray the image we want," Angus said. "I’m at a loss why the city – it’s their land, it’s their asset – doesn’t really want to take a lead on this."
Swandel said he wasn’t convinced a $7-million decorative fence is the solution to what the chamber described as an "eyesore" – the rear yards of Queen Street properties that back along Route 90.
"You can beautify things other than with fences," Swandel said.
The proposal upset Queen Street residents, whose rear yards the Chamber believes no one needs to see.
Spokesman Alan Castell said they fear the fence will lead to an increase in crime and vandalism to their properties, adding they are upset that the chamber has yet to consult with them about the project.
Castell said the Chamber made the residents feel as if the city is embarrassed by them.
"I’m sure the motivation by the Chamber is good," Castell said. "The feelings of the people who live there with some sense of pride is you’re trying to hide us a wall because you’re embarrassed by our properties."