Movement grows to extend temporary active transportation routes past closure date

Councillor seeks approval to keep routes open until Labour Day  

They were meant to allow cooped-up Winnipeggers some physically-distanced fresh air and exercise — and meant to be temporary.

Now there is an effort afoot to have the city's nine active transportation routes remain open until the Labour Day weekend or perhaps longer if some get their way.

The nine streets are closed to traffic (with a one block allowance for residents to get to their homes and deliveries to be made) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, until July 6.

St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard says the feedback he's getting through his office has been very supportive of extending the restrictions through the summer.

"I've never seen so many smiling faces in Winnipeg and people are really taking advantage of what is healthy activity that doesn't cost anything. It's accessible to everyone who lives within any proximity to these nine roads. I think it's tremendous," Allard said during an interview Wednesday on Lyndale Drive — one of the nine routes.

Allard will table a motion at city council this Friday calling for the routes to remain restricted to vehicular traffic until the Labour Day weekend.

Some residents who live along the routes are not so enthusiastic about the restrictions running all day, every day.

"I just don't know about the sense of having it all day during the weekdays … as you can see right now, it is not that busy. Around 3:30 gets a little bit busy, [and] in the morning … but what is the sense of having it all day long, that I'm not too sure," said Norwood resident Chantal Wlock.

Wlock, who lives along Lyndale Drive, acknowledges the routes are popular and uses the empty streets with her family sometimes, but says perhaps the restrictions could be eased to allow residents to drive more than a single block to get to their homes.

"I appreciate that everybody needs space to walk and feel nice. It's by the river,  it is a nice walk, there's no doubt. It's just for the residents to have just the one block to get out … it's not always handy," she said.

Allard's motion to extend the program until the September long weekend isn't enough for some.

A petition started by the Winnipeg Trails Association says, "Keep Winnipeg's open streets open and expand them until we have a safer and connected city."

The petition had just shy of 2,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.[[

[Note: Find the petition here.]