The general manager of two airport-area hotels says the condition of Berry Street is an embarrassment to the city.
"You leave a beautiful new airport when you come to the city, and if you have to turn down Berry it makes you kind of forget that you just left a world-class airport," said Steve Walker, adding hotel customers have been complaining about the potholes.
Walker manages the Hilton Suites hotel at Berry and Wellington Avenue, as well as the Greenwood Inn two blocks east on Wellington.
He said the issue was discussed at a meeting of hotel general managers serving St. James a couple of weeks ago, and he notified the city councillor for the area, Scott Fielding, whom he credited with coming to look at the problem right away.
Fielding introduced a motion at the April 9 Assiniboia Community Committee requesting that public works reclassify Berry between Ellice Avenue and Wellington from a collector street to a regional street.
Doing so would mean Berry could be repaved, possibly under the next capital budget coming this fall, rather than compete with about $1 million per year each councillor gets to overhaul residential streets, Fielding said.
"Will it be approved? I’ll put it this way, it’s a reasonable request… I’m going to be pushing hard to get it done as soon as I can," Fielding said.
The motion, which included a request that public works report back to the committee at its June 4 meeting, was passed unanimously.
Walker said his hotels have more than 370 rooms, and cited several other hotels within blocks of his that add more than 700 rooms to that total.
"It’s an awful lot of guest rooms in a very small area," he said, "and one of the biggest things is just the impression it gives visitors to Winnipeg."
Last Wednesday a construction crew was at work on Berry outside the Hilton disconnecting a water main. One worker, asking not to be named, said rebar was visible at the bottom of some potholes. After three days on site they took it upon themselves to fill some of the worst holes with limestone gravel.
"We just got tired of seeing cars coming through here at 60 (km/h) and hitting them," he said, adding they were also worried about a car losing control through the obstacle course of potholes and injuring one of them.
"It’s like a back road…welcome to Winnipeg," he said.
By Saturday the area had been spot-patched with asphalt.