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Summer-long street party? Plan floated for Osborne Village pedestrian weekends

Osborne Village.
Osborne Village. Zahra Premji / Global News / File

The success of the Canada Day street festival, which brings massive crowds to Osborne Village each July 1, has some calling for the pedestrian mall to return every weekend over the summer.

The proposal would mean weekend closures of Osborne Street to vehicular traffic between River Avenue and Confusion Corner.

Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) told Global News she’s on board with the idea, citing similar closures in the Exchange District and on Corydon Avenue for other street festivals.

“This is happening around the city. For Osborne Village in particular, it’s a great discussion we’re having,” she said.

“Judging from the amount of Winnipeggers that did walk and enjoy Canada Day that responded positively, I think it’s one worth having, for sure.”

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Rollins said she’s already heard positive reaction to the idea from area businesses, as well as from local residents.

“I think we’re just starting this conversation, given what happened last year with the Exchange District BIZ who had a very, very thoughtful approach to their August to September closing off of Albert (Street), so we’re just in the initiation phases.”

Osborne Village BIZ chairman Justin Paquin said rolling the plan out slowly and making sure all potential stakeholders have a say would be a good way to iron out any kinks.

“It would definitely need a variety of parties’ involvement and commitment,” said Paquin.

“I think the residents in the area should certainly have an influence over what happens. The City of Winnipeg, Winnipeg Transit of course, all need to have their input. I do believe the benefit of this type of street closure would certainly outweigh all the costs.

“Every weekend is certainly a goal, but it doesn’t have to be every weekend. It could start off by being just a couple other weekends in the summer, just to test it out, to see how it works.”

On average nearly 34,000 cars drive along the stretch of Osborne Street through the village every single day. Regardless, some business owners said commuter chaos can still be avoided even with a closure.

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“It’s one block out of the city. The major routes that go around on Donald and River are easy to reroute around,” Shop Take Care owner Jill Zdunich said. “I mean every playoff season we close off one major street downtown so if we can do that I’m sure we can handle the village closure.”

Zdunich also suggested closing the street just once a week, every Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

“The city needs some sort of structure with that sort of thing, so I think its good to know every Sunday you can come down and park, or ride your bike in or walk in between,” she said. “It could become a thing to do on Sundays… for the entire city to come, shop and hang out.

 

WATCH: Celebrate Canada Day with Osborne Village’s street festival

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Celebrate Canada Day with Osborne Village’s street festival