St. James residents say they have not been consulted on a plan to erect a two-block-long solid fence on Route 90 along their backyards.
The nine-foot-high fence is the key component of a $7-million initiative proposed by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce to beautify the airport-to-downtown traffic route.
Queen Street residents Alan Castell and Wally Christensen said they and their neighbours fear the fence will encourage vandalism and other criminal acts.
'They want to do something to our backyards but they don't have the respect to actually talk to the people who will have to live with what they want to do'
"There's been talk about this for 10 years but no one has spoken to us about it," Christensen said.
"We were blown away by the fact no one from the chamber had the decency to even talk to anybody who lives here," Castell said. "They want to do something to our backyards but they don't have the respect to actually talk to the people who will have to live with what they want to do.
"To me, that's kind of arrogant."
Queen Street runs parallel to Route 90 and the chamber considers the route, with its open view of residents' garages and backyards, an eyesore on a route into downtown.
An open, chain-link fence now separates the Queen Street back lane from Route 90.
The chamber plan involves replacing the chain-link fence with decorative solid-wall panels, combined with landscaping, accent lighting and banners to cover up the back lanes along Route 90 between Ness and St. Matthews avenues.
The proposal will be presented to the civic public works committee this morning.
Castell said attempts to open dialogue with the chamber have been ignored.
Chamber CEO and president Dave Angus said consultation with area residents and businesses is part of the process, but it hasn't happened yet because the chamber only came up with the proposal recently.
"There was nothing specific to consult on," Angus said, adding the chamber will reach out to the community once further details on the appearance of the fence and lighting are finalized.
The solid-wall fencing would be made of reinforced polyethylene plastic panels -- the same material used in fencing along Chief Peguis Trail from Henderson Highway to Lagimodiere Boulevard.
The six-foot-high fence panels would be installed on top of a three-foot-high concrete barrier.
Christensen said there have been isolated incidents of break-ins on Queen Street, adding residents fear the situation will only get worse with a nine-foot-high fence entirely blocking the view of their rear yards.
"Putting up some kind of barrier now makes this whole back lane open for anyone to walk into it and do whatever they want, sight unseen," Castell said.