Council moves forward with study of re-opening Portage and Main in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — Portage and Main is the topic of conversation once again at City Hall and another report is moving forward.

The city wants to talk to the businesses they agreed to block the intersection with back in 1976.

Council voted Wednesday in support of a study that could lead to the re-opening of Portage and Main to pedestrians, one of the mayor’s campaign promises.

“I wanted to see supported by council was an endorsement, the need to have a conversation,” said Mayor Brian Bowman.

Pedestrians were blocked from the intersection almost 40 years ago when the city signed an agreement with property developers, that contract expires in 2019.

But some are hoping it will open in time for the for the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

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“2017, it’s a special year for our country, 150 years why not open up Portage and Main,” said Stefano Grande of Downtown BIZ. “Critical to the growth of our downtown is making sure that Chinatown is connected to the waterfront, waterfront is connected to the Forks and allowing people to walk freely.”

Only two councilors opposed the motion Wednesday but small businesses say they rely heavily on the foot traffic in the underground mall, worrying they’d lose customers if pedestrians could cross at street level.

“If you have no choice but to take the underground routes then you have the tendency to maneuver here,” owner of Mmmuffins Ben Santos said.

Mayor Brian Bowman said public service will work on the updated report that will also look at pedestrian safety and traffic flows.

WATCH: Mayor Brian Bowman speaks about potential re-opening of Portage and Main pedestrian walkway

No timeline has been set yet for when the results of the study are due.

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