IN March, city council ranked the $250-million Marion-Archibald project as the second-highest priority among its infrastructure projects. There is little support for it now after a Free Press article in early October revealed the magnitude of the work and damage it would cause to the surrounding neighbourhoods.
The project would require the expropriation and demolition of 140 homes and businesses, including a Sikh temple and a neighbourhood park and outdoor pool, resulting in the destruction of two neighbourhoods.
Marion would be widened from four to six lanes from Youville Street to Dawson Road, and a massive underpass and interchange would be constructed where Marion Street crosses Archibald Street and continue under the CPR Emerson rail line. Sound-attenuation walls would be built along the west side of Archibald north and south of Marion, effectively cutting off street access and isolating those neighbourhoods. Westbound traffic on Marion would be cut off at Dawson and realigned onto Panet and Dugald roads.
Not surprisingly, a group of area residents -- the Seine River Bonivital Residents Association -- sprang up in response to the project. The group remains opposed, claiming city hall and its consultants rammed the project through while ignoring opposition and withholding key information from the public, including widening Marion to accommodate a possible eastern transit corridor and access to a proposed 600-unit residential development on the nearby Canada Packers site, which has been vacant for several years.
Even area Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface), who actively campaigned for the project in January, has dropped his support.
There is little appetite to proceed with it among other councillors, especially now that the dispute between Ottawa and several First Nations over the former Kapyong Barracks appears on its way to be resolved, removing the only obstacle to the widening of Kenaston Boulevard.
The suspicion among councillors is once the Kapyong dispute is resolved, the Marion-Archibald project would be bumped down on the priority list in favour of the Kenaston project, which has an estimated price tag of $375 million.