City could spend more than $11M to begin the process of opening Portage and Main

An artist's rendering shows Portage Avenue facing east after the proposed changes to Portage and Main. City of Winnipeg report

The first phase of the plan to open Winnipeg’s iconic intersection could cost city taxpayers millions of dollars.

The long awaited report on the project was made public Friday afternoon before it goes to a vote at City Hall’s Executive Policy Committee and Council next Wednesday.

The estimated price tag to remove the barricades and allow for at grade and below ground repairs has been pegged at $11.6 million, according to the report.

RELATED: City commissions second study to examine re-opening Portage and Main to pedestrians

The city’s Chief Administrative Officer Doug McNeil, who authored the report, recommends the project move forward in phases which would start with a $3.5 million allocation in the 2018 municipal budget.

The report recommends a “phased approach, ensuring all corners of the intersection work together with a priority to move people, however they chose to move, and is done in conjunction with private-sector improvements in the area.”

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Proposed changes to Portage and Main from the City of Winnipeg reports released Friday. City of Winnipeg report

The mayor said there are significant repairs to city assets that need to be done in the area and it makes sense to align them with the renovations being done by private sector businesses in the area.

“These are happening right now,” Mayor Brian Bowman said. “These things are happening all around Portage and Main in spite of the neglect from 40 years of status quo at Portage and Main. We’ve neglected, certainly the concourse, and we need to clean it up.”

Bowman said there has been an era of neglect of city owned assets at the intersection and there is lots of work that needs to be done.

“(It’s) pretty embarrassing for the heart of our city,” he said. “The water damage… we’ve learned that the pedestrian barricades, at grade, are connected to the concourse and the membranes are shot. So when there is rain there is water damage. That needs to be dealt with.”

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Bowman said the concourse below Portage and Main has black mold, water damage and asbestos. He said a significant portion of these funds will go to make improvements below ground level.

These repairs would all be part of this initial phase which could eventually lead to the opening of the iconic intersection.

However, $2 million of that would come from Winnipeg’s road repair budget.

The report does not lay out a specific timeline for reopening the intersection.

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