Strategy would re-prioritize active transportation routes

Extra $1M suggested for snow clearing

Additional coverage:

A LONG-DELAYED report identifying new priorities for snow clearing and ice control within the city’s active transportation network will recommend spending nearly $1 million on changes when it finally sees the light of day in May.

The winter maintenance strategy report is now up on the City of Winnipeg’s website and will be discussed May 1 at the next standing policy committee on infrastructure renewal and public works.

Coun. Janice Lukes (South Winnipeg-St. Norbert) originally requested the report in March 2016 when she was chairwoman of public works. After seven extensions, the public service came back with its findings.

Cheryl Anderson, the city’s acting manager of street maintenance, is the report’s main author. Her department recommends spending about $933,000 next winter on re-prioritizing roadways, sidewalks and active transportation pathways to provide a connected pedestrian and cycling winter maintenance network.

Subsequent annual spending on the re-prioritized network would be about $835,000 plus inflation, according to the report.

“Efforts have been put into place that, when new infrastructure is being planned, to recognize these future design requirements and connectivity,” Anderson wrote about what the city has been doing since it approved its transportation master plan in 2011 and adopted pedestrian and cycling strategies in 2015.

“Winter season has been an entirely different challenge, as citizens find many of these new active transportation routes disconnected or not maintained,” she said.

Many Winnipeggers were frustrated after a large snow dump in March left some people stranded in their homes due to poorly cleared sidewalks. Some people who use wheelchairs were forced to travel on city streets in order to get around.

But the public works report is about much more than fallout from a single snowstorm, said Anders Swanson, executive director

of Winnipeg Trails Association.

“After a long wait, this is a small step in the right direction. (The report) needs to pass so we can get going, but this report does not yet address the most crucial aspect: reliability,” Swanson said.

“Walking, cycling, no matter what your ability, can be the most reliable and resilient forms of transport year round, but they have different design needs than cars. The report mentions that but then doesn’t fully address it.”

Swanson thinks the city’s snow removal timing should be sped up, another move not directly mentioned in the report. The current clearing policy is to have all top-priority roadways and adjacent sidewalks and paths cleared within 36 hours of a snowfall ending.

“For people pushing strollers, riding bikes or using wheelchairs, that’s just not practical. Think about this: if I am in a wheelchair and I can’t get to work on Monday or even get to the bus — which happens way too often— who is going to call my boss to tell them, ‘Sorry, but maybe he’ll be in by Wednesday?’” he said. Identifying the streets that aren’t priority one for cars but may be top priority for pedestrians or cyclists is an important distinction laid out in the review, said Mark Cohoe, director of Bike Winnipeg, who was pleased with the first iteration of the report and its related ward maps.

“It’s a step forward for sure. I think there’s a few tweaks that we’ll probably recommend and a few clarifications, too.”

Cohoe pointed to the North Assiniboine Parkway and foot bridges around Omand’s Creek as areas that could use more attention.

If the public service’s report recommendations are approved by the public works committee on Tuesday, the changes will still need to get the green light from the executive policy committee and city council.


Beth McKechnie | Workplace Commuter Options

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