Who and why volunteers are devoting their free time to open Portage and Maine in upcoming civic election.

by Cassy Musick


Some downtown Winnipeg residents and business owners are volunteering their time with Vote Open Winnipeg. Established in July 2018, Vote Open Winnipeg is a committee that believes opening the Portage and Main will bring a vibrant energy to Downtown.

Carolyn Townend, a graduate of the Graphic Design program at Red River College, volunteers at the Vote Open Winnipeg storefront at 201 Portage Avenue.

“We can’t cross the street and it’s ridiculous. It’s ok to admit we made a mistake 40 years ago, but let’s fix it,” said Townend.

Along with 15 other volunteers, Townend spends time informing Winnipeggers who come to the storefront about why the intersection should be open to pedestrians.

William, 59 and Theresa Bench, 61, residents of St. Boniface, expressing their support for Vote Open Winnipeg while enjoying Oh Doughnuts at Oct. 15, 2018 Vote Open’s Announcement of Fort-Notre Dame North-South Corridor./SUPPLIED
Left to right: Alyson Shane, William Bench, and Theresa Bench.


Townend said she loves spending her time outdoors and opening the intersection would allow her to walk or cycle to work.

Alyson Shane, owner of Starling Social, volunteers by running Team Open Winnipeg’s social media channels with Susie Parker, a public relations professional.

As a graduate from the University of Winnipeg, Shane has spent years riding public transit and commuting downtown.

“Our transit system is trash, so let’s try and fix it,” said Shane.

King and Bannatyne along with other Winnipeg restaurants and shops in the Exchange put “Vote Open Portage and Main” signs in windows to encourage Winnipeggers to Vote Yes./CASSY MUSICK


Vote Open Winnipeg has proposed a new transit route called the Fort-Notre Dame North-South Corridor, which will take most or all buses off Main Street to improve traffic flow.

Shane said opening Portage and Main and re-thinking our transit routes, are just a few ways to help improve downtown.

“Downtown is a destination… Our city is more than a shitty winter,” said Shane.

Over the past weekend, Vote Open Winnipeg volunteers were preparing for OpenFest.

OpenFest was a free concert on Saturday at the Portage and Main intersection, which featured Winnipeg musicians, art, craft beer, poetry, and local food and drink to raise awareness and encourage Winnipeggers to vote to open the intersection.