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This article was published 1/10/2019 (512 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Coun. Vivian Santos is proposing an experimental street concept for areas of the Exchange District, after the public works department narrowed a portion of a sidewalk along Main Street.

Santos said she’s unhappy with the decision by the department to alter the sidewalk on the west side of Main at Bannatyne Avenue, and said the city needs to find an alternative way to accommodate vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

"I was very disappointed with the new loading zone on Main Street. I wanted to find a better solution for the Exchange District area," Santos said at Tuesday’s public works committee meeting.

The sidewalk was narrowed to construct a pedestrian drop-off at the northwest corner for students attending a private music and dance school, the City of Winnipeg administration said.

Santos is proposing a "shared-street" concept for three areas of the Exchange, where vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists can safely travel.

The changes she envisions through the pilot would include a reduced speed limit; allowing pedestrians to cross the street at any point, not just at controlled intersections; and raising the road bed to match the sidewalk, making it easier for pedestrians, including those with physical disabilities, to cross the street at any point.

The locations for the trial would be on Albert Street, Arthur Street, and Bannatyne Avenue between Main and King streets.

Much of the Exchange District is treated by pedestrians and motorists as a shared street already, she said.

"We all know the Exchange District is a pedestrian-friendly area so I feel Winnipeggers (are) ready for this shift. That's why I'm calling for a pilot project, just to do small steps," Santos said. "Eliminating the traditional segregation of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists can create a shared and more vibrant streetscape."

The committee supported Santos’ proposal for the city to consult with area businesses and residents about the possibility of implementing the shared-street concept on a pilot basis.

The administration was directed to develop a cost estimate and conceptual design for the committee within six months.

Similar configurations have been implemented in pedestrian-popular areas such as Banff, Alta., and Montreal, Santos said.

"I have always been a big proponent of making our downtown and Exchange District more pedestrian and cyclist friendly," she said.

"I know that not every other city’s design concept can work in Winnipeg, but I believe this shared-streets concept is a very positive balance that the Exchange District desperately needs to accommodate vehicular traffic, cyclists and pedestrians."