City expands active-transportation network with new pathway in north Winnipeg
The wheels of a few dozen cyclists sliced through several metres of ribbon in place of the classic, comically-large pair of scissors during an offbeat ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday marking the official opening of Winnipeg’s newest active-transportation path.
After a soft opening earlier in the week, the Northwest Hydro Corridor Multi-Use Path was formally unveiled to the public during a news conference Thursday at Simkin Park in Garden City.
“By embracing the opportunity to partner and invest in our transportation network, we are ensuring that we provide healthy opportunities for safe and accessible pathways for our residents,” Old Kildonan Coun. Devi Sharma told the gathering.
Cyclists and pedestrians could be seen using the new trail while councillors, the mayor and representatives from Manitoba Hydro, Trails Manitoba and the Manitoba government delivered speeches.
The 4.5-metre-wide path, running parallel to McPhillips Street, consists of a 2.4-kilometre stretch between Leila and Church avenues. It cost a total of $2.5 million and was funded, in part, by a $450,000 grant from Trails Manitoba and the province.
The multi-use trail will service a wide range of shops, workplaces and institutions in north Winnipeg, including the Garden City Shopping Centre, Seven Oaks Hospital and several schools.
Don Denesiuk cycled north from his home in Downtown Winnipeg to test out the path and gather with other bike enthusiasts.
“Any kind of infrastructure, especially if it separates the bike from traffic, is going to be a good thing,” Denesiuk said. “The points of contention are going to be where it crosses the major thoroughfares.”
To improve cyclist and pedestrian safety in the future, Denesiuk wants the city to address more gaps in the municipal active-transportation network and invest in snow-clearing infrastructure designed specifically for the routes in the winter months.
Mayor Scott Gillingham raved about the city’s growing investment in projects such as the pathway in the past year. The city’s 2023 preliminary budget committed $17.5 million to active-transportation projects.
“Our investment in active-transportation projects this year is 300 per cent higher than what was forecasted in the 2022 budget,” Gillingham said.
He added that the city is also installing protected lanes along River and Stradbrook avenues and multi-use paths down Keewatin and Archibald streets.
Over the years, multiple hydro corridors have been transformed into multi-use pathways. Awasisak Mēskanow Trail, formerly known as the Bishop Grandin Greenway, was the city’s first.
Colleen Galbraith, Manitoba Hydro’s customer energy services department manager, said active transportation is one of the best uses for hydro right-of-way corridors.
“We’re so happy to see the right-of-way to be used for such a great community,” Galbraith said. “The project is a perfect example of what our community can achieve by working towards a common goal: giving Winnipeggers, young and old, a safe place to get outside, ride a bike and get some exercise.”
In Phase 2, the multi-use path will extend into Point Douglas. Gillingham couldn’t provide further details on when that will happen.
Point Douglas Coun. Vivian Santos said she was eager to welcome more active-transportation investments into her ward, which has historically been underserved.