Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Good fences

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A civic committee's decision to take no action on a proposal to erect decorative barriers along a portion of Route 90 is a setback, but it's not the last word on efforts to improve the image for motorists heading downtown from the airport.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is leading the campaign for a $7-million plan to beautify a two-block stretch of Route 90 between Ness and St. Matthews avenues with a 2.7-metre-high solid-wall fence, accent lighting, landscaping and large banners promoting the interesting things to do in Winnipeg.

The public works committee said simply the chamber's plan was not complete, but one stumbling block seems to have been the failure to consult with residents who would be affected by the barriers.

Two of them said it would increase the risk of crime in the neighbourhood, but it's not known if they were representing themselves only, or the entire community.

Another unresolved issue is who pays for the fencing. The city is understandably reluctant to spend $7 million of its own money on a two-block-long fence. The private sector hasn't put any money on the table so far.

The chamber says it will engage the community, something it should have done years ago, particularly since public opposition is frequently critical in determining the success or failure of a particular project.

The use of fencing to separate residents from busy streets is common in many areas of the city. The people of Windsor Park, for example, demanded the city erect a concrete barrier along Lagimodiere Boulevard to dilute the noise and pollution from traffic.

If the residents along Route 90 feel differently, however, then the chamber will have to go back to the drawing board and develop a new plan that enhances Winnipeg's image without disregarding local opinion.

Landscape architects have met bigger challenges.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 21, 2013 A14

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