November 14, 2019

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City 'irresponsible', advocates of opening Portage and Main say

Keep the barricades up or tear them down: it's going to cost money either way, says a coalition hoping to make the intersection accessible to foot traffic again. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Files)</p>

Keep the barricades up or tear them down: it's going to cost money either way, says a coalition hoping to make the intersection accessible to foot traffic again. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/9/2018 (429 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/9/2018 (429 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Coalition for Portage and Main is calling the City of Winnipeg irresponsible for not releasing a dollar figure indicating what fixing the intersection’s barricades will cost — should they stay up — in advance of the pending referendum.

Coalition spokesman Adam Dooley, who’s involved with the team pushing to make the intersection accessible to foot traffic again, said the city has left citizens in the dark on a key piece of information they need to make an informed choice at the ballot box Oct. 24.

"If there’s one thing I really want to focus on today that is this myth that we keep encountering. And that myth is that people seem to think if they’re going to vote no, then they’re saving taxpayer dollars," Dooley said.

"The truth is exactly the opposite. The city is committed and must spend millions of dollars to fix this intersection, to upgrade it, to fix the crumbling concrete and upgrade the accessibility, regardless of a yes vote or a no vote."

Dooley’s comments came at a news conference on Tuesday, where the new Coalition for Portage and Main campaign storefront was unveiled.

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>John Luxford, a supporter of opening Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic, offers information to people walking by the new Vote Open campaign storefront at 201 Portage Ave. over the lunch hour on Tuesday.</p>

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press

John Luxford, a supporter of opening Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic, offers information to people walking by the new Vote Open campaign storefront at 201 Portage Ave. over the lunch hour on Tuesday.

It is located at the former TD Bank location in the underground at 201 Portage Ave. and will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.

The lack of information on the issue has led to an inaccurate public discourse, according to Dooley, with those opposed to reopening the intersection contending the cost of tearing down the barricades could be rerouted to address more pressing concerns.

"There’s been a terrible lack of information put forth by the city. People assume that the ‘yes side’ means spending money and the ‘no side’ means spending no money, but that’s simply not the case. We’re spending money there either way," Dooley said.

It will cost roughly $6 million to tear down the barricades, plus $5.5 million for additional buses to avoid an impact on Winnipeg Transit services, according to a report commissioned by the city.

On Tuesday, a city spokesman said there has been no condition assessment done on the existing barricades, nor is there an estimate for what fixing or replacing them would cost taxpayers in the future if they should remain standing.

"Let me be clear: I think it’s incredibly irresponsible for the City of Winnipeg to not have that information. The people of Winnipeg deserve that information and the fact that we don’t have it is really disappointing. And I think it’s exceedingly unlikely that we’re going to get that number before the vote," Dooley said.

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at 6:55 AM CDT: Headline fixed.

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