A disagreement with a property owner has forced the city to temporarily transform its new Seine River pathway from a two-kilometre throughway to a 1.8 kilometre turnaround.
The pathway — one of 35 projects to receive funding through the federal government’s stimulus program — was originally intended to run along the Seine River from Shorehill Drive in Royalwood to Creek Bend Road near the Perimeter Highway in St.Vital, said Kevin Nixon, the city’s active transportation co-ordinator.
However, the city has been unable to negotiate an easement with one resident to extend the trail onto his property, Nixon said.
"Now, (the path) is from Shorehill to 1.8 kilometres south of Shorehill. Then we put in a turnaround because of the issue with the easement that we’re currently negotiating," he said.
Nixon said while work on the $250,000 path — which began in September — is almost complete for now, the city has not given up on its plans to eventually extend the pathway to Creek Bend.
"The city is negotiating with the property owner," he said on Oct. 6. "I can’t really say anything more than that."
The property in question is located near the southern end of the trail, near Aldgate Road, and no trespassing signs have been posted by the owner.
Nixon said he believed the city made the right call going forward with the construction of the path, despite the ongoing nature of the negotiations.
"Sometimes, the decision is made. Do we not do 1.8 kilometres of pathway, which is apparently being well-used . . . or do we wait to make it longer," he said.
"Our experience is that you’re better off to just do what you can when it comes up with the money."
Nixon added the path is meant more for recreational use.
"It’s not really intended or expected to be a commuter route," he said.
"The fact that it doesn’t really lead anywhere, except for the fact that it goes through a gorgeous area — and it’s just as gorgeous going back the other way."
But area resident Dave Watson said the incomplete path is a problem for him and others who live south of the trail’s temporary end.
Watson, who lives on Creek Bend Road, said he’s disappointed he cannot easily access the trail, which connects to both the Bois des Esprits pathway in Royalwood and the South St. Vital trail in River Park South.
The problem also affects residents of two new condominium projects that are located along the original, unfinished portion of the trail.
"If you come from the south, like I do, like the people at Legend at Creek Bend, and like the people at Oxbow on the Seine . . . we don’t have the ability to enjoy this trail without trespassing," he said.
Watson said he’s encountered people using the pathway who have been confused by the turnaround.
Some have been using a shortcut to St. Anne’s Road through a nearby condominium development located on Aldgate, Villas on the Seine, Watson said. That has prompted those owners to post their own no trespassing signs.
"The public wants to do the right thing, but they don’t know what to do."
Watson said he can understand the position of the property owner, but also said he thinks it’s important for the trail to be extended to its original planned length.
"I’d like the landowner to be able to enjoy his property with his family, and I’d like the public to be able to enjoy the quarter of a million dollar path," he said.
"It’s a beautiful trail, but it doesn’t really go anywhere."
Watson disagreed the path was not meant for commuting, as it connects to other active transportation trails in southeast Winnipeg.
The path is featured on the bike trails map recently published by the city.
Nixon said he hasn’t heard of any complaints from confused cyclists, but said the new edition of the maps would be corrected to show the trail does not connect to Creek Bend Road.
The property owner could not be reached for comment.