The city’s plans for Marion and Archibald streets will lead to the destruction of the neighbourhood’s character, say residents who oppose the ambitious interchange and overpass.
The $250-million project would mean the closure or relocation of multiple businesses including European Art Glass, Teaser’s Burlesque Palace, Great Canadian Oil Change and the bustling Tim Hortons on Archibald Street.
One of those likely impacted homeowners is Maurizio Esposito, who lives on Archibald Street, across the street from the Tim Hortons.
After looking at the rendering of the proposed diamond interchange at the intersection, Esposito couldn’t even believe he was staring at the same intersection he has lived at for the past 14 years.
“I think it would ruin the character. It looks more like a highway project. There’s no businesses, there is no houses,” he said, speaking at the Tim Hortons he regularly gathers at with his friends.
Esposito acknowledges something has to be done to the area to help the traffic flow that often leads to massive congestion during rush hour as trains travel along the adjacent CPR Emerson track.
“Sometimes you get two of them in rush hour and it can take an hour to cross,” he said, adding he would rather see a smaller underpass near the railroad tracks as opposed to this massive plan.
Wanda Pike, who owns European Art Glass on Archibald Street, said she is tired of the holding pattern she has been in with her business since the plans for the area were first brought to light earlier this year.
“Now we are actually stuck. We can’t sell our business. Nobody will buy it, so what do you do? I can’t even retire,” Pike said.
She said the city is between a rock and a hard place when it comes the project, because she has seen firsthand the daily congestion on the street. She takes the same stance as area Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface), adding the city has to make sure the project is done right the first time.
“So either you do it, even if we have to move, but do it properly so in the long run it is something we don’t think, ‘Oh well, we should have done that,’ ” Pike said.
The stained glass studio has been a mainstay in St. Boniface for over three decades, doubling as a training ground for budding stained glass artists in the evening.
“We will be gone, everything three blocks (south from the intersection) will be gone, even the house behind us,” she said Wednesday evening while teaching her regular stained glass class. “If this goes through, my son will take over the business. We will have to move somewhere either in St. Boniface or move somewhere else.”
— Kristin Annable