Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/7/2018 (711 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Should Kenaston move more people? Absolutely. Must it be an urban freeway? I’m not convinced.
As the author of the letter obtained by the Winnipeg Free Press that formed the basis of Aldo Santin’s article (Kenaston plan won’t work, consultant told city in October, July 13), I felt obliged to share the full story behind our assessment of the Kenaston project with the people of Winnipeg. The letter I authored was actually a proposal to provide the Canada Lands Company (CLC) with an overview presentation of great North American streets designed to move large volumes of traffic while remaining integrated with adjoining neighbourhoods.
Well-designed urban roadways can alleviate congestion and achieve the goals of traffic engineers, while also allowing neighbourhoods to thrive and embrace their new role as community focal points.
Our proposal was subsequently approved by the Crown corporation. As Santin’s reporting accurately explains, our assignment was to prepare a presentation for the CLC to use in meetings with project stakeholders, including community groups, the City of Winnipeg and the Kenaston project team. Despite a limited budget, our passion for great city-building and our commitment to the betterment of Winnipeg led us to conduct extensive research on the best examples of streets in North America carrying more than 50,000 vehicles per day.
What we discovered did not surprise. The fact is that many well-designed and vibrant streets in North America carry the traffic volumes envisioned for Kenaston. Those who have visited Vancouver or Toronto may have experienced such streets. The drive into beautiful downtown Vancouver along Oak Street (which is also a provincial highway) carries 69,000 vehicles per day. Maybe your visit included dinner in Little Italy along Hastings Street in Burnaby (another provincial highway). If it did, you would have been sharing the street with 60,000 other vehicles.
The Greater Toronto Area also has many examples of great streets, whether it’s Yonge Street in North York or Woodbine Avenue (Highway 8) in Markham.
Both streets function extremely well as major arterials moving large traffic volumes, but also include transit options and cycling facilities and are not void of pedestrians. These streets feature vibrant storefronts, support mixed-use development and help ensure adjoining neighbourhoods thrive, as opposed to being isolated and cut off from the rest of the community and entirely car-oriented.
It is true that Urban Systems is a British Columbia-based consulting firm, but we are also very proud to have a full-service office in the heart of the Exchange District in downtown Winnipeg.
We are proud that we have worked closely with the residents of Winnipeg on many innovative projects, such as the Winnipeg Climate Action Plan, pedestrian and cycling strategy, McDermot and Bannatyne bike lanes and more.
One of our strengths is our ability to share the knowledge we have gained in one part of the country with our clients in other parts. The presentation we prepared is a testament to this approach. We have been involved in projects right across Canada that have helped alleviate traffic congestion while at the same time enhancing urban streets and creating vibrant neighbourhoods. Let’s work together to achieve the common objectives of the important Kenaston project.
Instead of simply "accepting" that Kenaston needs to be developed as a large urban expressway with limited access, huge buffers and pedestrian bridges to keep people away from the street, perhaps a different vision warrants discussion. The redevelopment of the Kapyong Barracks presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redesign an important part of the city.
The CLC has won awards for exceptional design across the country. The Kapyong project will dramatically increase the number of people living in this part of the city and with the infusion of new residents, the project will also introduce new housing forms, additional retail opportunities, new community facilities, additional parkland and, most importantly, set the stage for the development of another great North American street right in the heart of Winnipeg.
Winnipeggers are rightfully proud of their city, and innovation in solving "urban problems" is a hallmark of all great cities. We sincerely hope the great streets highlighted in our presentation will be considered for the Kenaston project.
After all, wouldn’t it be great to have a showcase urban roadway right here in Winnipeg that can be shared as a best practice with other Canadian cities? Now, that would be something to be proud of.
Andrew Baigent is a community planner and adviser who has served on the National Council of the Canadian Institute of Planners and was co-chair of the 2013 National Planning Conference.
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