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Millions of dollars in recommended repairs to the pedestrian connection beneath Portage Avenue and Main Street were not considered by city councillors when writing the new multi-year budget.

A condition assessment of the underground concourse prepared by SMS Engineering Ltd. lists a number of issues with the facility — outdated mechanical systems, crumbling infrastructure and sub-standard building design — and suggests upgrades worth more than $2.4 million will be needed in the next five years.

The study was commissioned by the City of Winnipeg in August 2018 and submitted to the public service at the end of May last year.

The document has not been released in full publicly and was not provided to members of city council.

"I’m not surprised to hear that there’s significant upgrades that are needed to a 40-year plus intersection that really no politician has wanted to touch for the last four decades," Mayor Brian Bowman said Thursday.

The mayor said he learned of the condition assessment study and its contents in an article published by the Winnipeg Free Press on Wednesday.

In addition to mechanical and architectural upgrades, authors of the SMS report also recommend the city consider extensive work to replace the failed roofing membrane above the concourse within 10 years, the cost of which would be significant.

An analysis of the waterproofing system cautions against leaving the membrane as is because steel reinforcing could corrode and make repairs more difficult and "much more costly."

However, the mayor said he’s not bothered that the report was not available to council while elected officials were coming up with a spending plan for the next four years.

"We’ve asked the public service, go do your due diligence," Bowman said. "I gather they have more work to do before they can provide an administrative report to us.

"When we get an administrative report, we’ll make decisions going forward."

City of Winnipeg director of planning, property and development, John Kiernan, said it’s normal for documents such as the condition assessment report to not be provided to council.

"We’ve released that information simply because we were asked to. But it’s not a final solution; it’s simply ‘here’s a snapshot in time’," he said.

Kiernan said the SMS report is not prescriptive and is instead an inventory and analysis of needs to inform another study on the concourse, the scope of which hasn’t yet been determined.

That request for proposals is anticipated to be released before the end of the year.

"When we have an informed opportunity, we would bring forward any proposed capital works for council’s consideration," Kiernan said.

Estimated costs for the waterproofing work was redacted from the report obtained by the Free Press through a freedom of information request. However, Kiernan said the price tag is "substantial" and the membrane would only be replaced when the intersection is resurfaced.

In 2017, the city dedicated $1.5 million to concourse and intersection improvements at Portage Avenue and Main Street. Kiernan said some of that capital has been spent, including reimbursing Harvard Developments for improvements made to the city concourse near 201 Portage Ave. and on an environmental site assessment in anticipation of future construction.

The city has also spent $500,000 to support above ground improvements to the intersection within the plaza at the Richardson Centre.


Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.

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