City launches survey asking for public feedback

By: Lexi Olifirowich

Winnipeg residents may have more places to cycle, run, or walk as The City of Winnipeg is revisiting the Open Streets initiative, less than a month after the project ended. 

The program, which closes stretches of residential streets to vehicles, was announced in April in an effort to allow locals to walk, run and cycle while remaining physically distant. 

On Sept. 7, the city closed six of the ten routes, leaving Winnipeg with the four pedestrian-exclusive streets it usually has. Those four are only open to cyclists and pedestrians, but just on Sundays and holidays. This means people out for a jog, walking their dog, or enjoying a bike ride can only do so safely once a week.

The decision to shutter the Open Streets program has been met with criticism from walkers and runners.

Coun. Markus Chambers (St. Norbert – Seine River) says pedestrian safety is important.

“We need to explore opportunities to keep them [pedestrians and cyclists] safe on the road,” Chambers said.

Chambers was disappointed the streets were available to vehicles in September.

People running outdoors on Kilkenny Drive.

“Hopefully this is something that we can implement again next summer and extend it until October as opposed to September like we did this year,” said Chambers.

Jesse Antonyshen uses these streets for a variety of reasons. He’s not opposed to allowing traffic on the streets during winter months.

“In winter it should be open for cars when people don’t walk and bike,” he said.

He used to travel on Wellington Crescent with his car to save time, but when he wanted to exercise or walk his dogs, he used Assiniboine Avenue.

According to Engage Winnipeg, the city’s online public engagement platform, there are still streets reserved for pedestrians and cyclists including Lyndale Drive, Scotia Street, Wellington Crescent, and Wolseley Avenue. These streets will stay unavailable to drivers on Sundays and holidays until Oct. 12th. 

The six streets allowing vehicles at all times since Sept. 7th are Churchill Drive, Egerton Road, Kildonan Drive, Kilkenny Drive, Rover Avenue, and Vialoux Drive.

The city launched an online survey asking Winnipeggers to provide feedback on the Open Streets Project, and despite a motion proposed to keep all ten streets open for only cyclists and pedestrians, no decision has been made regarding reopening the closed routes.