*EPC backs revamp plan of intersection *
A PLAN to upgrade the Portage and Main intersection with the intention of eventually opening it up to pedestrians was endorsed unanimously Wednesday by Mayor Brian Bowman and members of his executive policy committee.
The proposal would see the city spend $3.5 million to revamp the areas around the intersection, including:
• $1.5 million for further engineering and architectural work needed to allow pedestrians to cross.
• $500,000 for new sidewalks, curbs and street trees for the plaza area directly in front of the Richardson Building
• $1.5 million to upgrade the underground concourse underneath the tower at 201 Portage Ave.
Bowman said he was pleased with the unanimous vote, adding it marks a milestone for Winnipeg city council.
“This is four decades to get us where we are today,” Bowman told reporters following the EPC meeting.
The vote came after nine downtown business leaders spent more than an hour in the morning urging EPC members to approve the plan.
Two early dissenters on EPC — Couns. Scott Gillingham and Brian Mayes — eventually voted for the proposal after Bowman agreed to include minor amendments from both of them.
Gillingham wanted a written assurance that the intersection will not be reopened to pedestrians until a report detailing cost estimates and traffic impacts is presented to council. Mayes secured an agreement that the administration will consider the impact of a potential north Main Street transit corridor will have on the project.
The proposal requires council to:
• Commit to re-opening the intersection to pedestrians through a phased approach.
• Appoint a Portage Avenue and Main Street Working Group.
• Approve a single-source contract with Harvard Developments for reimbursement of renovation and upgrade costs up to $500,000 for work Harvard Developments is doing in the underground concourse in conjunction with upgrades to Harvard underground property.
• Sign an agreement with the adjacent property owners for at-grade pedestrian activity at the intersection, which would include termination of the original lease provisions that prohibit atgrade activity.
The proposal needs at least a majority of nine votes at council.