An idea 10 years in the making to beautify the airport-to-downtown traffic route is closer to being realized.
A civic administrative report is endorsing a $7-million proposal from the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce to hide the ugly rear residential yards along a two-block stretch of Route 90.
The chamber plan involves erecting decorative solid-wall fencing panels, combined with landscaping, accent lighting and banners, to cover up the back lanes along Route 90 between Ness and St. Matthews avenues.
"It's been a challenging piece of land to find a solution for," chamber president and CEO Dave Angus said, adding everyone agreed the route needed a makeover -- but nobody could figure out how to do it. "We need to do something along this stretch in order to portray the image we want to portray as a city," Angus said. "We finally have something definitive that we can rally people around and go raise the money to pay for it."
The proposal will be presented to the public works committee Tuesday but still needs to be approved by council.
The administrative report states there is no financial implications for the city; however, it also acknowledges the chamber will likely approach all three levels of government for funding for the project.
"The city will be approached for a contribution, but it's not all on the city," Angus said. "The reality is, fencing and landscaping is basic infrastructure."
The designated traffic route from the airport to downtown runs along Route 90 to Portage Avenue. Angus said the view along Route 90 -- with its residential back lanes, garages and typical outdoor household storage -- is "an eyesore."
A chain-link fence separates the roadway from the back lane. The city has a narrow right-of-way that parallels the back lanes, which limited the type of masking that could be done along the route. Buried underneath the right-of-way are sensitive sewer and water infrastructure, which also limited the weight of any masking materials.
"The big part of the problem was to find a solution that was lightweight but sturdy enough to survive that particular route."
Angus said the solution was found at the Chief Peguis Trail extension, where reinforced polyethylene plastic panels were used as sound-attenuation fencing between Henderson Highway and Lagimodiere Boulevard.
The plan calls for replacing the existing fencing with a wall of panels made from the same material -- not necessarily the same colour or design -- as those on Chief Peguis Trail. Subsequent phases of the makeover will see installation of landscaping and accent lighting.
The last phase will be the installation of large banners promoting various aspects of Winnipeg, Angus said, citing as examples the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the symphony, zoo, Jets, Bombers and other features.
Angus said the plan is to have corporate sponsors cover the costs of the banners, adding company logos would not appear on the banners.
An administrative report on Chamber Way is available online (at: http://www.winnipeg.ca/CLKDMIS/ViewDoc.asp?DocId13143&SectionId&InitUrl).