March 28, 2020

-1° C, Clear

Full Forecast

Winnipeg Free Press


Hazardous ice closes Omand's Creek footbridge till spring

A well-used footbridge considered an integral part of the active transportation network in west central Winnipeg will be closed until late spring.

City of Winnipeg crews blocked access to the footbridge over Omand’s Creek last week, after late-November flooding submerged the structure and froze into thick, hazardous ice, public works spokeswoman Julie Dooley said.

Chris Jensen walks up to the closed Omand's Creek bridge in Wolseley on Friday.


Chris Jensen walks up to the closed Omand's Creek bridge in Wolseley on Friday.

"It’s completely iced over, so it’s just not safe for people to walk over it," she said.

Every spring, the bridge is flooded when the Assiniboine River spills into the creek and submerges parts of Omand Park in Wolseley. Late fall flooding, however, is uncommon.

Dooley said the crossing had been under ice for a few weeks before it was closed, and creek levels have since returned to normal.

There’s no indication the structural integrity of the bridge has been impacted, she said, yet the city won’t be making an effort to restore public access this winter.

"We appreciate the inconvenience of the closure, but want to ensure all park users stay safe. Pedestrians can still access the other side of the bridge by rerouting down Raglan Street to Portage Avenue," she said.

Anders Swanson, executive director of Winnipeg Trails Association, said the closure is an example of deficiencies in the city’s maintenance of active transportation networks.

"That bridge and the detour is indicative of a number of gaps in the city where we need things to be designed to accommodate all users, all year long," Swanson said.

The path through Omand Park is popular with cyclists, runners, and pedestrians who use the footbridge to cross Omand’s Creek while out for walks with their dogs, running the popular Wolseley-Wellington loop, or travelling between the Polo Park area and downtown.

Without access to the crossing, people are choosing instead to traverse the heaved ice of the frozen creek, or head north on Raglan Street to Portage Avenue, and south again to the parkway to get to their destination, and neither option is ideal, Swanson said.

"It really points to the fact that what are your alternatives? And when you have a city with the bare minimum of connectivity, every little piece counts," he said.

The bridge is also part of the North Assiniboine Parkway, which ties in to the city’s planned active transportation network on Empress Street, part of a $22.83-million rehabilitation project of Empress Street and the overpass. It’s also a critical alternative to cycling on Portage Avenue, Swanson said.

Given the importance of the bridge to the active transportation network, and the frequent flooding of the creek, more political attention could be paid to improving infrastructure in Omand Park, Swanson said. Raising the bridge to avoid chronic flooding would be a good starting point.

"It’s important that we have continuous predictable, usable, reliable infrastructure along all the banks of every river," he said.

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.

Read full biography

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.