Winnipeg city councillors renewed their concerns Tuesday over the public works department reducing the width of a portion of the sidewalk along Main Street without informing elected officials.
Couns. Jeff Browaty and Vivian Santos said they were disappointed with the department’s decision to dig up the sidewalk on the west side of Main Street at Bannatyne Avenue to accommodate business operators who wanted a drop-off zone for deliveries and clients.
“Main Street is one of those streets where there is a lot of pedestrian activity and we need that space,” Browaty said during the public works meeting, adding he doubted during the winter months there would be enough space left for people to walk when snow gets piled up.
“It’s simply too narrow for a street like Main Street.”
Browaty said wide sidewalks are specifically cited in civic policies as a way to encourage pedestrian activity.
“Arbitrarily taking out a sidewalk… is a step backward that shouldn’t have been done bureaucratically,” he said. “It seems surprising that the department has the autonomy and authority to do this without having to consult with the area councillor or having some political direction.”
Browaty later told reporters the work shouldn’t have been done without first consulting the ward councillor (Santos) and he didn’t understand the rationale (the building has a parking lot on the north side and there is parking allowed on the west) nor how the department was able to pay for the project.
“I’m kind of curious how this all came to be,” Browaty said.
Santos told reporters she thought the work shouldn’t have been done, adding, however, she understood the department had the authority after council gave blanket approval to a downtown sidewalk enhancement program.
“I’m not accepting it. I still feel it’s very disappointing what’s happened here and I wish public works had at least consulted with me,” she said.
City officials acknowledged last month they had not advised or consulted with Santos on the project, and promised not to let that happen again.