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A new initiative aims to make Furby Street safer for pedestrians.
The Winnipeg Trails Association and West Broadway Community Organization have partnered to introduce "traffic calming measures" to the block of Furby Street between Westminster Avenue and Broadway.
They will install a mobile planter on the street, which encourages drivers to slow down on their commutes home.
The organizations are working with public works to design the measures, pending council approval. The City Centre community committee approved the project, which went to the infrastructure renewal and public works committee on July 7.
While the motion works its way through council, the WTA has designed a prototype which it will present to the city.
Anders Swanson, executive director of the WTA, said the prototype will serve as a visual reminder for drivers that they are moving through a residential street and they need to be mindful of pedestrians.
"‘Traffic-calming measures’ is a very technical sounding term, what it really means is we’re helping to make our streets into a community asset. It’s a way to remind drivers that ‘hey, you’re entering a place where people are living, so maybe slow down,’" Swanson said.
The WTA’s prototype is a wooden planter, placed along the side of Furby Street. Residents will be able to grow herbs and vegetables in it, with the bright greenery serving as a deterrent for speeding. Drivers will still be able to use the road, the WTA hopes that the increased greenery will catch their eye and remind them to be cautious.
The proposal is part of their Healing Trails Program, a partnership with the West Broadway Community Organization to create a more walkable and accessible city.
Greg MacPherson, executive director of the WBCO, is excited about the proposal. He said residents in West Broadway have been pushing for a more accessible city.
"Our mandate is derived from public consultations, our biggest one being the five-year community plan. Through all of our surveys and consultations, residents in our neighbourhood want more infrastructure for active transportation," MacPherson said. "That block of (Furby Street) is very busy, it’s one of the most densely populated streets in the area. There’s a lot of seniors, people with chronic health issues … They walk wherever they go. Having a bunch of cars speed through there is a huge concern for them."
MacPherson said in the 2018/2019 census, around 60 per cent of West Broadway residents community primarily by cycling or walking. The WBCO did a huge survey in 2016, going door to door asking residents what they want from their neighborhood. According to their survey, 90 per cent of residents wanted traffic calming measures of some kind.
The City of Winnipeg has seen a push for active transportation routes throughout the city. Recently, council extended its Sunday/holiday bicycle routes, closing some streets off to vehicle traffic until September.
Organizations like the WTA and WBCO have been pushing for a more walkable city for years.
MacPherson said Winnipeg is lagging far behind other cities when it comes to accessibility.
"I’ve been to several other cities in Canada and around the world. I’m sorry to say, but Winnipeg is a little behind on this. You see cities everywhere that are starting to take active transportation more seriously, all the studies we have show it benefits our society," MacPherson said. "I’d love to live in a city where I wasn’t reliant on motor vehicles to get from A to B. Not everyone can afford a car."
Community journalist — The Metro
Justin Luschinski is the community journalist for The Metro. Email him at email@example.com
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