Build the Peguis Trail extension now

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/07/2021 (443 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Faygee Hecht was spitting mad. Ron Schuler, Manitoba’s infrastructure minister, had just announced the funding of several projects in the south end of Winnipeg.

What about the North End? she asked.

What about the western extension of Chief Peguis Trail? Winnipeggers have been waiting since the early 1970s, when the city put aside land and properties for the 16-kilometre route from Main Street to Brookside Boulevard, which would facilitate safer and speedier traffic.
Hecht explained that it’s vital.

File photo by Ligia Braidotti In 2017, Coun. Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) and Scott Suderman, a City of Winnipeg transportation and facilities planning engineer, explained to area residents how the new Chief Peguis Trail Extension West project would benefit them.

“Have you seen the new housing developments being built? Construction is booming and there will be two cars in every garage,” she added.

“When will it be our turn?”

I called the provincial department of infrastructure to ask what projects are on the agenda.

The office said there is one in full swing on the south Perimeter, but Ron Schuler wasn’t available to talk. Miranda Dube, press secretary for Schuler replies with information:

“In 2020-21 the City of Winnipeg received monies ($126.4 million) for the North End water pollution control centre under the Manitoba Restart program. This funding is in addition to the $56.2 million previously advanced to the city towards Manitoba’s commitment to complete the NEWPCC headworks facility and upgrades to the NEWPCC biosolids facilitities. All are seen as necessary projects.

“In addition there is a study planned later this year for the north Perimeter Highway, which will determine locations for future interchanges and allow input from the public.”

I contacted Devi Sharma next. She is speaker of city council and the councillor for Old Kildonan, but she was in a 12-hour council meeting.

I was informed by her office that the preliminary design study has been completed, providing an estimate for budgeting purposes. It is now on a list of prioritized investment needs for the city. Such a big project requires and now awaits funding from all levels of government to move forward.

Hecht is worried that the north end of town is being ignored.

“Why is all the money flowing south?” she asked.

“The south end of the city is getting an overpass, while the north end is getting a treatment plant.”

She explained that Leila Avenue battles heavy traffic from 3:30 to 6 p.m. every weekday and is classed as a “high-collision area.” 

A hospital, fire station and lots of seniors’ housing is built along the way.

Hecht, the one-time assistant of Judy Wasylycia-Leis, goes on to recount the project’s history.

“They were going to do it in 1989 but the work would put frogs in the district at risk of extinction,” she said. 

Checking the online timeline, I found a functional study was conducted from 2014 to 2016 for use and expectations of the western extension.

In 2019, council agreed to “prioritize” the building of the route amongst other major capital unfunded projects. Recommendations of the study were: to accommodate traffic flow and relieve it on neighbouring streets, provide connections to other streets and include pedestrian and cycling paths. The plan was to limit the loss of “natural and valuable areas.”

Hecht, 66, has lived all her life in the North End and is preparing an online list of concerned taxpayers. She hopes to send it to city councillors and provincial officials, as positive proof of the needs and desires of Winnipeg’s citizens. 

“What are they waiting for — someone to get killed?”

To show your support for the CPT western extension contact Faygee Hecht at
CPTfaygeehecht@gmail.com

Freda Glow is a community correspondent for the North End.

Freda Glow

Freda Glow
North End community correspondent

Freda Glow is a community correspondent for the North End.

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