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This article was published 4/8/2020 (700 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Motorists driving on Henderson Highway between Johnson Avenue and Hespeler Avenue may have noticed some temporary changes July 25 — some of which could become permanent.
The new streetscape was part of Reimagine Elmwood, a one-day trial which saw a temporary crosswalk, bicycle lanes and parking lanes installed on Henderson between noon and 8 p.m. It was an experiment to see how organizers could make Elmwood a more livable community.
Michel Durand-Wood, co-chair of the Glenelm Neighbourhood Association, helped organize
Reimagine Elmwood along with representatives of seven other community groups. He said the afternoon’s test-drive evolved from the results of a survey of more than 1,500 respondents.
"One of the major themes that came back was the difficulty in getting around the neighbourhood, especially for families, youth and seniors," Durand-Wood said.
One significant barrier is the six lanes of traffic on Henderson Highway, Durand-Wood said.
Vehicle traffic and noise makes it difficult to converse on the sidewalks. If the speed limit is lowered, a bicycle lane added (as many cyclists now use the sidewalk), and some tables and chairs are placed on the sidewalks, all of a sudden you have a more hospitable environment.
Durand-Wood said the intersection of Henderson and Poplar is the neighbourhood’s midway point, so the group decided to try a crosswalk. A guard was stationed there to help pedestrians.
The final element was the elimination of one traffic lane in favour of on-street parking which, while allowed, can be discouraged by higher vehicle speeds. Turnouts were placed at street corners to encourage parking.
"Its good for a neighbourhood feel and good for the businesses," Durand-Wood said. "We’re working as a neighbourhood and community to get everybody on board to work toward something that works for everybody.
"Luckily Coun. (Jason) Schreyer was very helpful and supportive throughout the way."
Reimagine Elmwood was a nice starting point, but the owner of a local business believes the results would have been different if the test was held on a weekday.
"It’s good," said Mike Bergmann, owner of Lower Level Sports Cards and Collectibles at 189 Henderson Hwy. "It’s one thing to do it on a Saturday, the traffic is flowing nicely, but when the crosswalk is being used by the Subway it backs traffic up and I wonder how it will Monday to Friday."
Bergmann also said any changes should only be made after extensive consultation with area business owners, which he doesn’t always see.
"People don’t come and visit the business and ask my opinion. Maybe they do at other businesses but that has to happen for these changes to happen as well," Bergmann said.
Bergmann said there has been street parking on Henderson for years, so he would like to see existing parking used lots to their full capacity, including the one at Elmwood Mennonite Brethren Church lot and even his own, which is shared with another building but cut in half by a fence.
"Parking lots are essential and if you want people to come to Elmwood there has to be free parking in the parking lots, at least to begin with and then see what happens," Bergmann said.
Durand-Wood said organizers will review surveys and discuss the event. Next steps could be longer trials and added locations.
East Kildonan community correspondent
Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at email@example.com