If you want to continue to see cars — not people — at Portage and Main, then vote Gord Steeves for mayor.
Standing at Portage and Main Monday afternoon, Steeves pledged not to "spend a dime" of city taxpayers' money on looking at opening the iconic intersection to pedestrians again, decades after it was closed and a system of underground walkways opened.
"It would plug up downtown more," Steeves said adding it would benefit only a few hundred pedestrians daily at the expense of slowing down thousands of motorists.
Steeves also chided fellow mayoral candidates Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Brian Bowman for pushing for rapid transit yet wanting to open Portage and Main to pedestrians and slow down traffic.
"Start thinking of it as an asset many cities would like to have," he said.
The intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street was closed to pedestrians in 1979 to drive pedestrian traffic into an underground concourse built by property owners. The deal expires in 2019, but any one of the property owners can trigger a 40-year extension.
Last year, a public works official estimated more than 200,000 people drive through the intersection every day in vehicles, while about 1,000 people would cross the intersection on a daily basis if it were reopened.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Monday, October 13, 2014 at 2:22 PM CDT: Adds image.