*Design unveiled for Osborne Village bike route*
THE City of Winnipeg has unveiled the final design for a key cycling route.
In June, the city will begin building protected bike lanes on River and
Stradbrook avenues (from Harkness Avenue to Wellington Crescent), and
Wellington Crescent (between River and Stradbrook), as part of a larger
road renewal project.
A cycling advocate says the link will add a key connection to the city’s
bike route network and help many people commute.
“We’re really happy to see this moving through. We think it’s a big part of
the city network moving forward and it’s something that we feel is going to
get used right from the start,” said Mark Cohoe, executive director of Bike
Cohoe noted the route could help cyclists from parts of St. Vital and Fort
Garry head downtown and will serve riders in densely populated Osborne
The city’s website says the project will make travel for cyclists safer and
more convenient by using a raised curb to separate bikes from vehicles.
“It’s definitely a safety improvement. Right now, if you look at both
Stradbrook and River, it’s mixed traffic. So, if you’re riding your bike on
those roadways, you’re mixing in with vehicles and parked cars. You’re more
likely to get into a collision in that kind of situation,” said Cohoe.
“Mixed traffic with parking on roads like River and Stradbrook with the
heavier volumes of traffic is the thing that people find the least friendly
to ride on. It’s the thing they fear most.”
The plan includes “two-stage” leftturn areas where space outside of bike
and traffic lanes allows cyclists room to stop outside of the flow of
traffic and wait for a safe moment to turn.
The new safety features are meant to help ensure riders of all ages and
abilities can travel safely, said Chris Baker, the city’s active
“This protected bike lane will separate those on bikes from those in a car
by a concrete curb.
This really increases the comfort of cycling there. What that does is
attract riders who might not be comfortable riding in a different
condition, riding on a painted bike lane or riding in mixed traffic,” said
This particular route is a priority in Winnipeg’s pedestrian and cycling
strategy and should help the city meet a few different goals, he said.
“Creating a safe and comfortable and high-quality cycling network is
critical to encourage more people to use… this mode of transportation.
Getting more people on their bikes can reduce traffic congestion (and) it
helps the city meet its climate change goals,” he said.
The city does not yet know the cost of the project since it’s part of
larger road renewal contracts that are still open for companies to bid on.
Nearly all of the bike route will be protected from traffic, except for a
short, narrower segment of River Avenue west of Harkness Avenue, Baker
said. At that spot, the city proposes to eventually reduce the vehicle
speed limit to 30 km/h and possibly add traffic- calming devices.
The routes will also be made safer for pedestrians, Baker said.
“This (project) has some major pedestrian improvements… (including) five
new crosswalks that will be upgraded to (a) flashing beacon (to be more
visible),” he said.
A survey on the final design has been posted on the city’s website (engage.
Construction on the protected bike lanes is expected to wrap up in October.
joyanne.pursaga(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga
*Fort Rouge Yards proposal approved *
The City Centre community committee considered several development and
re-zoning proposals at its March 17 meeting.
First up, the committee voted to approve Sunstone’s plans for construction
of a new multi-unit building at 15 Walker Court, in the Fort Rouge Yards
development, just west of Argue Street.
The approved design is for a four-storey residential multi-family building
containing 100 residential units, with 116 parking stalls (69 underground,
47 surface, 12 guest) and *92 bicycle parking stalls. It will also be
serviced with pedestrian connections to the nearby active transportation
pathway and rapid-transit station.*
The committee then concurred with a public service recommendation to reject
an application by J. Wintrup Consulting for subdivision and rezoning of 963
Centennial St. to allow for construction of a multi-family dwelling.
Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) cited concerns about the
number of proposed units in the back lane, the objections of neighbours and
the possible removal of several trees that currently sit on the property in
moving to reject the application.
The committee also heard an application for subdivision and rezoning from
Cambridge Health for lots at 90 Wellington Cres., and 586 and 588 River
Ave, three adjoining properties situated at the southeast corner of the
junction of Wellington Crescent and River Avenue.
If approved, the rezoning and subdivision would allow for the construction
of two four-storey buildings with a combined 51 supportive-housing units.
Cambridge Health wrote in a supporting document that the buildings will
provide non-medical, community home care support for adults aged 50 to 65
“who display complex behaviours, such as people who have complex mental
Most of the units would be considered affordable housing and 20 of them
will be accessible units.
The committee adjourned its hearing on the application to its next meeting,
on April 25.
Sam Balto is having a moment. What, you don’t know Sam? Well, this
Portland, Oregon-based physical education teacher has become something of
an internet sensation thanks to a bike bus he established at his school
Alameda Elementary. The bike bus is a major local happening every single
Wednesday when more than 100 students join the two-wheeled parade on the
way to class. And it could be inspiring others in the United States and
beyond to do the same thing. So, we tracked Sam down to ask him just what
happened and what others can do to start a bike bus in their neighbourhoods.
*Early days of pilot program’s reduced speeds finding support from
residents in affected neighbourhoodsSlowing winning fast approval*
A PILOT project to slow traffic in four neighbourhoods is being met with
generally positive reviews from residents in its early stages.
New signs installed during the first two weeks of March reduced the speed
limit to 30 km/h from 50 in the Bourkevale and Tyndall Park South
neighbourhoods and to 40 km/h from 50 in Richmond West and Worthington.
Shannon Shields, whose son attends school in Bourkevale, said the reduced
speed appears to be a good fit for the neighbourhood.
“It’s a very, very busy walking area…. It’s nice to see the official signs
go up and it kind of just matches what the community wanted,” said Shields,
noting some residents previously posted their own signs that urged drivers
to slow down. “It’s nice. It just gives it a little bit of a different vibe
that other neighbourhoods don’t have.”
Mike McMullen said he hopes the Bourkevale change becomes permanent.
“I think it’s a good idea, especially with a school nearby and all the
kids,” said McMullen.
Josh Dyck said he also supports the change in Bourkevale but feels a 30
km/h limit would prove too slow and disruptive for larger residential
“I would be fine if (on busier residential routes drivers) slowed down to
50. As long as they’re paying attention and being responsible, I think
that’s reasonable,” said Dyck. “I understand people’s concerns about
slowing down to 30 in certain neighbourhoods.”
Another driver, who did not want her name published, said the focus should
not solely be on drivers to improve safety. She said more effort is also
needed to teach pedestrians to travel cautiously, such as by looking both
ways before crossing a street.
The pilot project is expected to have widespread implications.
“The reduced-speed neighbourhood pilot is the first step in determining the
future of speed limits in Winnipeg’s residential areas,” city spokesman Ken
Allen said in an emailed statement.
Allen said the test will help determine how reduced maximum speeds affect
neighbourhood livability and driver behaviour.
“The pilot will help us determine if changing the posted speed limit
changes how fast vehicles actually travel,” he said.
In Bourkevale’s case, many community members urged the city to reduce the
speed before the pilot began.
Daevid Ramey, who helped launch the group Bourkevale 30 to advocate for the
change, said desire to slow vehicles grew during the pandemic. He said the
vast majority of his neighbours felt the standard 50 km/h residential speed
limit didn’t mesh well with increased pedestrian and cycling traffic.
Ramey said the new lower speed limit is a better fit.
“It’s 30 km/h all the time. That makes our neighbourhood safer, it makes it
quieter and it’s clear for drivers,” said Ramey.
Many supporters of reduced speed limits believe they make streets safer.
Studies show that a pedestrian hit by a vehicle travelling 50 km/h is much
more likely to be killed or seriously injured than if the vehicle were
travelling 30 km/h.
While noting serious collisions typically occur on busier traffic routes,
Coun. Janice Lukes said she supports reduced residential speeds for a
“It really will improve neighbourhood livability, (creating) calmer
traffic, less noise, a more peaceful neighbourhood,” said Lukes (Waverley
West), council’s public works chairwoman.
She said the changes will also offer a potential method to address an
“outcry” for traffic-calming measures on many neighbourhood streets.
Lukes, whose ward includes Richmond West, said she received initial
pushback on the reduced-speed pilot project in the form of a few dozen
emailed complaints, which mostly alleged the program amounts to a tax grab
or wastes city money.
However, she said she also received plenty of positive feedback over the
last few weeks.
Coun. Shawn Dobson, whose St. James ward includes Bourkevale, said the 30
km/h speed limit makes sense for that area but he doesn’t believe the city
should impose it on all residential routes.
“In an isolated area like this, it would probably work but (in some other)
residential areas I don’t think it would…. It would be just too slow for
(thoroughfares),” said Dobson.
The reduced-speed neighbourhood pilot project is scheduled to last one
year. Once it concludes, a city report will recommend next steps.
joyanne.pursaga(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga
*Freeze-thaw cycle reignites public efforts to clear bike lanes*
DOWN a stretch of Assiniboine Avenue, a bike lane switches from being
underwater to a sheet of ice and back again, depending on the time of day.
It’s a brief but dangerous time of year to be using active transportation
in Winnipeg, caused by the freeze-thaw cycle of warmer temperatures
zig-zagging with cold ones.
It’s the city’s responsibility to ensure bike lanes and sidewalks are
usable, but Hillary Rosentreter knows how it feels to take matters into her
own hands. The Winnipeg resident was the organizer of several public snow-
and ice-clearing efforts — initially under threats of fines — earlier this
When she fell while cycling a few days ago, and later saw a pair of older
women struggling to support each other while navigating an icy walkway, she
knew it was time again to pick the shovel up.
“For me, although I’m young and able-bodied, I know that at some point, I’m
going to be there, my mom is going to be there, all the people I love are
going to be there, in a position where the city’s just not treating us to
the kind of standard that we all deserve,” she told the Free Press on
“And for a lot of people, that’s already the case.” Rosentreter took to
social media looking for allies to help clear a bike lane along Assiniboine
Avenue, which she said experiences a lot of use but had gotten dangerous to
By Sunday afternoon, she and six other people were working, shovels and
ice-breaking tools in hand, to clear the pathway to the pavement. The group
even drew in the efforts of a passerby.
“Losing that really crucial corridor, that just makes it that much more
difficult at this time of year to actually avoid using your vehicle to get
around, which shouldn’t be the case,” Rosentreter said. It feels a bit like
Just months ago, Rosentreter was warned by the city of a potential
financial penalty for clearing bike lanes. (After being publicly
questioned, officials quickly said it would not happen.)
It’s not a fear she has this time around, and Rosentreter is actively
trying to ensure streets maintenance workers know where and when organized
ice-clearing efforts are being made.
“I think it’s kind of important to keep the city in the loop when we do
intend to go out and do this kind of thing. I have no intention of cutting
the city out of the picture, in fact, I would love if they would take over,
so that we didn’t have to do it,” she said.
“But the problem is the policies are what they are, and it’s just not
conducive to the freeze-thaw cycles that we experience.”
Communications co-ordinator Ken Allen said the city is still not
considering issuing fines to vigilante ice clearers, adding early spring is
a typically treacherous time for pedestrians and cyclists.
“Under such conditions, plowing the ice that refreezes onto sidewalks each
night is problematic, given that the ice is firmly adhered to the pavement
surface, and the fact that there are over 3,000 kilometres of sidewalks and
pathways across the city,” he said in an email.
“Plus, the next-day thawing temperatures causes more water to accumulate
and again refreeze overnight, which causes icy conditions to reoccur on
almost a daily basis.”
However, that explanation isn’t good enough for some at city hall.
Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface) has put forward a proposal for a pilot
project testing the feasibility of clearing sidewalks all the way to the
pavement (by clearing one in each of the city’s 15 wards) but said the idea
has been consistently shot down.
Currently, only downtown sidewalks are required to be plowed to pavement.
Sidewalks along major routes, non-regional bus routes and collector streets
are required to be cleared to a compacted snow surface, following about
five centimetres of snow.
Allard said considering the efforts of winter cities such as Edmonton,
where service level requires many roadways be plowed to bare pavement
within less than five days, Winnipeg should create a civic report to see if
it would be able to do the same.
“I struggle to understand why we wouldn’t ask for a report. It doesn’t mean
that we’re doing it, it means the public service would write a report
saying, ‘If we were to do it, this is what it would look like.’ There’s
zero expense,” he said.
At a council meeting March 23, Mayor Scott Gillingham said he was firm on
his stance on the idea, but looked forward to debate on the motion.
“I think that the councillor has brought the motion that’s about to be
introduced, to refer it to public works, he’s brought it several times,”
Gillingham said last week.
“My position has been clear on that: I don’t think clearing snow on
sidewalks to pavement is realistic across the entirety of the city… We have
a very strong snow-clearing policy, as it is already.”
Allard, however, plans to persist: the motion will be discussed at the
standing policy committee on public works April 11.
“I want to look at the snow-clearing bylaw to find out if it’s providing
the right level of service, and from what I’m hearing from the community of
those who use sidewalks is that it’s not to the right level of service,” he
City council approves more 30-km/h speed limits
DRIVERS must prepare to slow down, permanently, on 14 Winnipeg streets.
On Thursday, city council cast the final vote to reduce the speed limit on
four “neighbourhood greenways” to 30 km/h (from 50 km/h), along with 10 of
the 2022 enhanced summer bike routes.
The new speed limits will apply at all hours, once they are gradually
implemented over the next two years.
All 14 routes will be permanently declared neighbourhood greenways:
on-street routes that typically use reduced speeds and traffic-calming
measures to “comfortably and safely move cyclists, pedestrians and motor
Supporters say this improves safety for active transportation options at a
much lower cost than constructing separated bike lanes.
Winnipeggers appear to have mixed views on the change.
City consultations about a pilot project that tested the reduced speed on
the four initial neighbourhood greenways found 59 per cent of residents who
lived on an affected street supported making the speed reduction permanent.
That number dropped to 48 per cent among nearby residents, while 70 per
cent of other road users opposed a permanent speed reduction.
*Capital, operating budgets get thumbs-up*
*Allard opposes both, pans major road projects*
A DECISIVE majority of council members cast a final vote to approve the
City of Winnipeg’s 2023 budget Wednesday, amid concerns about climate
change and calls for more community safety hosts at the Millennium Library.
The city’s capital and operating budgets passed in separate 14-2 votes.
Mayor Scott Gillingham said the financial plan funds both social services
and economic initiatives.
“I think that this 2023 budget offers a balanced approach,” said
Gillingham, making note of funds for 24-7 safe spaces, the downtown public
washroom and key roads.
Coun. Matt Allard, the only councillor to oppose both the capital and
operating budgets, argued paying for preliminary work on widening Kenaston
Boulevard and extending Chief Peguis Trail doesn’t make sense in the midst
of a climate-change crisis. Past estimates indicate those projects would
each cost more than $500 million.
“We have roads we can’t fix and this budget says we should spend $2.8
million in imagining a billion-dollar road project. It is so much money
relative to all of the other things… we could do with that kind of money,
the transit we could invest in. We could build (out) the entire active
transportation (strategy),” said Allard (St. Boniface).
Allard raised an unsuccessful motion to amend the budget, which called upon
council to increase the St. Boniface Street Links grant to $220,000 from
about $119,000, spend $240,900 on a city-wide community garden strategy and
hire a consultant on reducing Winnipeg Transit fares to $1. It also called
for the city to devote $600,000, and seek another $600,000 of external
funds, to replace the Winakwa Community Centre wading pool with a spray pad.
Allard told media the Street Links funding would have been enough to
persuade him to support the 2023 budget, since he deems it essential to
helping folks cope with homelessness and addictions, though he will
continue advocating for priorities to address climate change.
Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) joined Allard to oppose the operating budget
over concerns it didn’t offer enough investment in recreation and other
city services, while Coun. Jason Schreyer (Elmwood-East Kildonan) cast the
second vote against the capital budget over concerns it fails to properly
account for construction inflation.
The vote followed one last collective plea from social service
organizations to add four more full-time community safety host positions at
the Millennium Library, based on previous success.
“Our community safety hosts have de-escalated 209 out of 260… events that
they’ve been involved with at the Millennium Library. That’s 80 per cent of
the interactions that they’ve had where police did not need to be called,”
said Michael Redhead Champagne, a board member with Fearless R2W, which
trains the specialized security staff to provide trauma-related crisis work
and connect vulnerable folks with resources.
Champagne said the community safety hosts have secured shelter for eight
people and given naloxone (to reverse opioid drug overdoses) to nine people.
Champagne believes the hosts could replace security staff at other civic
buildings, as well.
“There are many other municipal spaces, such as community centres and (the
council building) where community safety hosts would be more appropriate
than traditional security,” he told reporters.
He said two community safety hosts currently work at Millennium Library,
though both of their terms will end in the next few months.
Council didn’t alter the budget to grant the request on Wednesday. However,
community services chairman Coun. John Orlikow said he also wants to see
more of the specially trained hosts replace standard security staff at the
downtown library in the near future, potentially even before the city
approves a long-term safety strategy for the facility.
“It’s a good program. It has people that really can connect with people… so
I do really think the program has lots of merit,” said Orlikow (River
Gillingham said he’s “certainly open” to the idea of adding more community
safety hosts but expects that would be considered after a report is
released on long-term safety options at the library.
“The conversation is, by no means, over with this budget. It’s just the
timing of this budget is such that we still don’t have that report back,”
There is no set date for the report’s release.
Efforts to improve safety at Millennium Library were thrust into the
spotlight after 28-year-old Tyree Cayer was stabbed to death on the main
floor on Dec. 11, leading the library to close. It reopened most services
on Jan. 23, with metal detectors and police on site.
Meanwhile, the budget received praise from members of the business
community Wednesday, partly due to its funding to extend city water and
sewer service to help develop CentrePort South, as well as the plans to
expand Chief Peguis and Kenaston.
“These decisions tell our trade partners continentally and globally that
Winnipeg is a trade hub and we are open for business,” said Chris Lorenc,
president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association.
The 2023 budget also includes a 3.5 per cent property tax hike and a $1.50
per-foot frontage fee increase, which will cost the average single-family
homeowner $142 more.
joyanne.pursaga(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga
*Winnipeg traffic levels remain steady during pandemic*
City traffic counters show that while vehicle levels on Winnipeg streets
saw a brief drop at the beginning of the pandemic, they bounced back
quickly. An expert in green commuting says this is indicative of a larger
problem in our city.
The City of Winnipeg monitors how many vehicles drive on our roads through
a series of traffic counting stations
in high-traffic areas around the city since December 2019.
The numbers show that while traffic levels did dip during the first few
months of the pandemic, they quickly returned to current levels.
Just before the beginning of the pandemic - in February 2020 - traffic
counters show an average of 19,466 vehicles on Winnipeg streets. That
number jumps in February 2021 to 21,495 traffic counts, and remained steady
at 21,409 counts last month.
Mel Marginet, part of the sustainable action team at the Green Action
Centre (GAC), said she’s not surprised by those traffic numbers. “In the
early phases obviously everything in the world shut down, so we experienced
this massive change where we sort of noticed how much space we were giving
to personal vehicles on our streets,” she said.
Marginet said the drop in vehicle traffic didn’t last long because people
in Winnipeg don’t have a lot of options when it comes to getting around
town. “Because we had cut transit service, we hadn’t offered practical
solutions for people to get from A to B … we just very quickly saw this
ballooning of our traffic volumes.”
She said Winnipeg’s traffic levels remained high even at a time when many
businesses were still closed.
Marginet said Winnipeggers feel that they have no other choice as far as
personal transportation goes. “That’s what we hear over and over again,”
she said. “Whether we do a transportation survey with an organization in
the suburbs or in the city … a question we always ask is how people are
currently travelling, and it’s obviously very high for personal vehicles.”
She said more than 80 per cent of trips within Winnipeg are made by
personal vehicles, a very high number compared to other cities.
However, Marginet said that driving is not everyone’s favourite way of
getting around. “You ask that follow up question of ‘what’s your preferred
way to get around?’ and we see travelling by personal vehicle just falls
sharply. People would rather bike, take the bus, carpool, those sorts of
She said the current state of Winnipeg Transit is part of the problem.
“Open comments like ‘I’d love to take the bus, but it’s going to take me
three times as long, I have to transfer two times, I tried taking the bus
but then I just got passed up all the time, or I was squished in there like
a sardine,’” said Marginet.
“It’s such a shame because we just have this really low hanging fruit of
people that really don’t want to make all of their trips all the time in a
personal vehicle, but they have no choice,” she added.
Rising fuel costs and inflation has led to more interest in the GAC’s Go
Manitoba program, which helps people find carpool partners, bus and bike
routes, and other green commuting options. “As soon as those gas prices
were rising, we really started to see an increase of people coming to Go
Manitoba,” said Marginet.
She said it is going to take a lot to change people’s transportation
habits, starting with better city planning in general. “It really is going
to take a push I think for the public to start to demand better,” Marginet
She added that the City of Winnipeg already has some plans that have yet to
be executed. “We have amazing transportation plans in this city and
strategies, and things that have been developed with so much community
“Public officials need to start following the evidence.”