A much-contested area of Winnipeg may finally be getting the attention it needs.
The City of Winnipeg held an open house at Canad Inns Polo Park (1405 St. Matthews Ave.) on Nov. 26 to give St. James residents, business owners, and developers a chance to see and discuss their thoughts on the upcoming infrastructure-improvement project for the Polo Park area.
The open house was held in a come-and-go style, with presentation boards propped on easels around the room. Attendees read the boards and surveyed the maps, and project consultants were on hand to discuss the project further.
According to the city’s website, the plan is to extend and widen St. Matthews Avenue from Route 90 to Empress Street, improve St. James Street from Maroon Road to Ellice Avenue, and upgrade the intersection at Ellice Avenue and St. James Street. The project is expected to cost $30 million.
Lester Deane, manager of the engineering division of the public works department, acted as the city’s spokesperson for the event.
"We’ve all known the traffic around Polo Park is a challenge at the best of times, so what you see before you on these boards are ways we think we can alleviate or improve traffic flow around the area," Deane explained. "It’s basically down to three phases. What we want to do is improve north and south of St. James, and the east and west capacity on Ellice and St. Matthews by introducing an additional lane."
Beryl Paintin, a St. James resident since 1975, said she loves the area and is glad to see that the city is planning on making improvements to the problematic roads.
"It’s a nightmare. The roads, the infrastructure, the wear-and-tear on the car, the temperament of the drivers," Paintin listed. "I’m so glad (the city is finally) doing something."
Deane said the evening was the initial forum to solicit response from the residents and business owners in the area. Comment forms were provided so those who attended can submit their thoughts and suggestions.
"We’re looking forward to the feedback," Deane said.
Those who weren’t in attendance at the open house but want to know more about the project can visit winnipeg.ca/publicworks/MajorProjects/PoloParkInfrastructImprove
The preliminary engineering design period is scheduled for December this year. Detailed engineering design is scheduled for the winter of 2014. Construction is expected to start in spring of 2014 and be completed some time in 2015.