Repair coming for longtime safety hazard on Sturgeon Creek path, city
A MASSIVE hole at one edge of the busy Sturgeon Creek active transportation
route is still drawing safety complaints from residents months after it was
The city said Tuesday a repair is on the way.
The Free Press first reported the problem — where the Sturgeon Creek route
meets a smaller path that leads to a playground on Amarynth Crescent — on
June 7. At the time, it had one barricade posted at each of its ends and
appeared to be about 75 centimetres deep and at least six metres long. The
next day, the city erected snow fencing around the entire perimeter of the
Randall Hull first complained to 311 about the safety hazard on April 23.
Hull said he’s relieved to hear some action will be taken soon, since it’s
about to get a lot more use.
“Once kids get back to school, there’s a lot of kids that use that pathway
to either go to school by bike or walk,” he said.
The city pumped standing water out of the trench, which now appears to be
about 1.8 metres deep, he said, adding the snow fence doesn’t extend far
enough to block access to the hole in its entirety.
“The snow fence is good on two of the four sides but it isn’t really
adequate at the end … it stops (about 1.2 metres) short of going all the
way around and therefore it’s easy for kids to go underneath the snow
fence,” he said. “At the proper angle, you see how grossly inadequate it
A city public works spokesman said the repair process will begin soon.
“The gap in Sturgeon Creek pathway by Amarynth Park is the result of an
underground washout that needs further investigation. The site will be
inspected by a riverbank stabilization engineer in mid-September to
determine the cause of the gap and the appropriate next steps for making
the repair, Ken Allen wrote.
“Temporarily filling the hole with gravel as an interim measure is not a
sufficient or appropriate repair method for this type of issue.”
Allen said a crew will also inspect the snow fence and could repair it
before the hole itself is fixed “in the weeks ahead.”
The damaged path is in St. James Coun. Shawn Dobson’s ward. He said city
officials suspect an old land drainage line may be linked to the problem.
“They can’t (just) fill up (the hole). It’ll keep sinking until they
determine the cause,” said Dobson.
In June, the councillor called the hole “monstrous” and agreed it posed a
significant safety concern. He said it appears even larger now, but he
believes the highly visible barrier surrounding it greatly reduces any risk.
Dobson said it makes sense to take the time needed to ensure a more
permanent repair. “It’s a complicated fix because you can’t just throw
gravel in it and say it’s done. ... They have to figure out what’s causing
(the washout) and that means they have to get in there and dig,” he said.
Dobson said the pathway may need to be realigned and rebuilt. While there
is not yet a cost estimate or timeline to fix the problem, he said he’s
confident money will be available.
Hull said he’s glad the city has promised to take action. And while he’d
love to see a quicker repair, he said it does make sense to pursue a
“Until there’s something permanently done, it’s probably a good point not
to throw money at (fixing it if) you know it’s not going to last,” he said.
joyanne.pursaga(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga
It shouldn’t take a squeaky wheel
DESPITE a convoluted response from city staff last week, hazardous pavement
heaving on a well-used local bike path was patched within days of a Free
Press story highlighting the issue.
It’s a chain of events that raises questions about the inner workings of
City Hall, as well as its active transportation priorities.
For months, cyclists have been skirting around a section of dangerously
uneven pavement at the corner of Rover Avenue and Hallet Street in North
Point Douglas. The soil under the sidewalk had shifted, causing the
concrete slabs to buckle and creating a large ridge at the roadway.
One daily user interviewed by the Free Press said the fissure had developed
in the spring, forcing cyclists to dismount or find an alternate route
during the height of bike season. The junction would likewise have been
impassable for wheelchair users, pedestrians with limited mobility or
parents with strollers heading to nearby Michaëlle Jean Park.
In its initial response, a city spokesperson pointed to riverbank failure
as the cause of the newly formed curb. A costly and lengthy proposal and
investigation process was needed before the sidewalk could be fixed.
“Making the repair is not as simple as just repaving the pathway,” read the
Yet, within 24-hours of that assessment, new asphalt had been poured by
public works and the gap corrected.
The patch may not be a permanent solution to the underlying issue of ground
shifting in the area, but it does make the neighbourhood’s infrastructure
While a gap of several inches might seem like a minor inconvenience in a
city with pockmarked streets and thousands of potholes, it’s the latest in
a growing list of controversies that illustrate the city’s dismissive
attitude toward active transportation routes.
This past winter, Winnipeggers took up shovels to clear ice and snow from
local bike paths in response to the city’s lackluster clearing efforts.
Last year, Free Press reporting found that two multi-use path projects in
the city had been funded, but not completed. When pressed, the city
couldn’t answer where the budgeted money went or why the projects were
stalled. An inquiring city councillor was met with similar silence.
In the winter of 2019, two Wolseley residents took it upon themselves to
clear ice from the Omand’s Creek footbridge after the city determined the
job was too difficult and that the busy bridge should be left impassable
until the spring melt. A request for information by the Canadian Taxpayers
Federation following the incident revealed 97 pages of internal
communications related to the bridge-clearing decision.
Time after time, Winnipeggers who opt for active transportation — either by
choice or by necessity — are forced to deal with physical and bureaucratic
roadblocks during their daily commute. It’s an embarrassing state of
affairs that hampers the city’s livability and its environmental goals.
Last week, Coun. Janice Lukes rightly described the North Point Douglas
issue as “completely unacceptable” and promised that maintenance of
Winnipeg’s active transportation network would be a priority for the public
works department next year — an admission that suggests bike and pedestrian
pathways aren’t currently very high on the agenda.
Our infrastructure isn’t the only thing in desperate need of repair. It
appears the municipal workflow could also use a tune-up.
While the promise of better city-wide bike infrastructure has yet to be
delivered, commuting has gotten a little smoother for one cohort of local
It’s too bad those users had to wait for media coverage in order to find a
Women’s cycling group strikes a chord
When Sarah Gravelle-MacKenzie set out to start a bi-weekly guided bike ride
for mature women around northeast Winnipeg this spring, she knew there’d be
interest. Even so, the response has surprised her.
“It has been phenomenal,” Gravelle-MacKenzie, 68, said. “I don’t think I
could have dreamt it would be this successful.”
Cycling with Sarah launched in May. Following three introductory rides in
the spring, Gravelle-MacKenzie ran two group rides per week, on Tuesdays
and Thursdays. A total of 53 women registered, with more than 40 on the
“We were at the max,” she said. “The goal is for next year, if we want to
try to grow it, we’ll have to get more ride leads and sweeps.”
This summer’s rides wrap up with group rides on Aug. 29, Sept. 7 and 14.
There will also be a wind-up party at Bikes & Beyond (227 Henderson Hwy.)
on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
“Once formal rides end, we can still ride. People have made friendships,
which is something special,” Gravelle-MacKenzie said. “The bonds that have
been created are pretty special.”
Sponsored by Liv Canada, Bikes & Beyond, and the Manitoba Cycling
Association, Gravelle-MacKenzie is planning to extend a series of events
into the fall and, hopefully, the winter as well, to keep the group
together and stay active.
“Fall, pre-snow, we’re doing hiking groups and going to different
places. We’ll set up a schedule and women can sign up,“ she said. “Once the
snow comes we’re going to do snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and I
want to do tobogganing at Silver Springs here in East St. Paul. It’s a good
workout and it makes you feel like a kid again.”
Gravelle-MacKenzie, who started cycling seriously when she retired a few
years ago, is also keen to introduce more women to winter cycling, if
informally at first.
“I love winter cycling,” she said. “I have talked about winter cycling and
there are some women who want to try it.”
Gravelle-MacKenzie believes part of the success of the group has been that
it serves an under-represented demographic. “A lot of the women, as older
women in their sixties and seventies, said they felt invisible,”
Gravelle-MacKenzie said. “So for a group to be formed just for them is
really powerful. It’s been neat to watch it all develop and everyone being
so enthusiastic about it. Come spring, we’ve got so many people who want to
ride. It’s evolving really nicely.”
For more information, follow @CyclingWithSarah on Instagram or email
The great barricade debate
Residents worry about extra traffic from drivers looking for shortcut
BARRICADES have been removed from an East St. Paul route reserved for
pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles, allowing general traffic to
access the hotly debated link to Winnipeg.
It is sparking safety concerns from some area residents, while others argue
it’s time to open the paved road for good.
The walking-biking route on Raleigh Street in the Rural Municipality of
East St. Paul offers a “through-pass” under the northeast Perimeter
Highway. A City of Winnipeg boundary on Raleigh is located just south of it.
Someone removed the wooden barricades in early July, raising concerns of
potentially excessive traffic.
“This is a… residential neighbourhood with residential streets… None of
them were designed with the notion of becoming another Henderson Highway or
Pembina Highway,” said Victor Mikolayenko, who lives nearby.
Mikolayenko is urging the province, which owns the infrastructure, to
replace the barricades as soon as possible.
As traffic from East St. Paul currently has just one permanent connection
to Lagimodiere Boulevard, he fears allowing general traffic on the Raleigh
link between Sperring (north) and Foxgrove (south) avenues would create a
very busy route, increasing noise and the risk of collisions.
“It doesn’t take much imagination to see that it would be used as a
shortcut… Residents on Headmaster Row between Gateway (Road) and
Lagimodiere would be severely impacted, as would any other residents along
that way,” said Mikolayenko.
He believes the wooden barricades were removed by vandals. During a Free
Press visit to the site Friday morning, a broken wooden barrier was spotted
in the grass beside the structure.
Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) said the barricades were removed at
least three weeks ago and he’s asked the province to replace them.
Browaty said he’s most concerned about future traffic, as East St. Paul’s
“There’s a big chunk of East St. Paul that, when this is open, would find
it desirable to take this underpass south of the Perimeter Highway and then
(connect through) to get to Lagimodiere. That’s the cut-through traffic
that is really problematic for the design and the build of Headmaster
(Row),” said Browaty, noting Headmaster is a residential street with many
driveways that back directly onto it.
Before the link was built, a City of Winnipeg public service report also
opposed allowing general traffic along the “through-pass.”
“Gateway Road and Raleigh Street north of Chief Peguis Trail have not been
built or planned to accommodate high volumes of vehicle traffic… (To do so,
these routes) would require a major infrastructure investment by the city
that would not at this time be supported by residents in the North Kildonan
ward,” a 2015 report noted.
Browaty is urging the province to cut off general traffic at the site once
again, arguing the area isn’t set up to handle it.
He said it could be possible to allow traffic in the future, but only after
extensive public consultation, traffic studies and potential infrastructure
improvements, with no cost to the city.
East St. Paul should also first provide guarantees its future development
around the site won’t be dense enough to greatly increase traffic, he added.
However, one East St. Paul councillor said he believes the route should
open up to allow local traffic permanently, to create an efficient route
and alleviate the need for detours.
“I think the province and everybody (else) foresees… that you’ve got to not
land-lock the community. You’ve got to keep (this area open),” said Charles
Posthumus said he’s heard ample support for making the change from both
Winnipeg and East St. Paul residents.
In an email, a provincial spokesperson said road signs were initially placed
along the route to note it is restricted to emergency vehicles, pedestrians
and cyclists, with movable barricades used to ensure emergency vehicle
Road signs to alert drivers to the restriction did not appear to be present
The province indicated vandalism has been a persistent problem at the site.
“These barricades are subject to frequent vandalism and theft. Therefore,
barricades may or may not be present at any given time… signage is also
subject to frequent vandalism so signage may or may not be present at any
given time,” the statement said.
The spokesperson said Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure will work
with East St. Paul and the City of Winnipeg to resolve any concerns.
Resourceful thieves sabotaging bike racks
Riders locking cycles to altered, non-secure structures
WATCH out for altered bike racks, a cycling advocate says, after local
riders have posted online warnings of security structures damaged by
would-be thieves to make pilfering bicycles easier.
One such rack had been cut or sawed at St. Boniface-area strip mall
Dominion Centre, with the cut masked with a piece of tape, one post said in
an online group focused on preventing Winnipeg bike thefts.
On Wednesday afternoon, the damaged rack remained, but no cyclists stopped
to lock up.
Mark Cohoe, executive director of advocacy organization Bike Winnipeg, said
he hadn’t personally encountered that specific method of thievery, but
noted he’s heard of people damaging racks to ease such thefts.
“Sometimes, you might get a rack or a post that’s been unbolted… I haven’t
seen it personally, but I’ve heard… where racks are either partially cut or
they’re cut through,” he said Wednesday.
“In some ways, it’s not surprising — I’ve seen it on social media in other
cities, and the tools are here, but I don’t know if it’s widespread.”
Bike theft, however, is widespread in Winnipeg, with city data suggesting
as many as 2,000 bicycles reported stolen a year, but far fewer returned to
Cohoe said he’s also heard of bolts being removed from the base of racks,
allowing the rack to be removed from the sidewalk or ground, or a rack
being cut most of the way through, allowing a thief to break it with a
hammer and slip off a bike’s lock with ease.
The advocate, who's had many bikes stolen over the years, said if someone
spots a damaged rack, they should report it to the business that owns it or
the City of Winnipeg.
“But ultimately, we need to have more racks out there and have
better enforcement to make sure we’re installing racks in good places, too,
to ensure they’re in visible places where it’s a little harder to do that
and maybe a quicker response if someone notices it has been vandalized… or
prepared for easier theft,” Cohoe said.
More short-term street parking and long-term bicycle storage programs need
to be developed, he added.
“Like into apartment buildings, into workplaces, places where if a bike’s
going to be stored on a regular basis, that it’s much more protected than
where it’s just sitting out, and ultimately a grinding tool will get to it
The advocate recommended cyclists choose parking spots in visible locations
with foot traffic, and to check bike racks by physically shaking them to
ensure it is secured, before locking the frame and a wheel of the bike to
Frequent bike thefts in the city have dissuaded some from cycling more
frequently, he said.
“If you assume your bike’s going to get stolen, you’re not going to take it
out there. And the reality is, people are getting their bikes stolen,” said
Cohoe, adding he would like to see Winnipeg police assign an investigator
to focus specifically on bike thefts, as well as online platforms to crack
down on illicit sales.