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Councillor calls for Winnipeg active transport routes to become permanent

Winnipeg city councillor for the St. Boniface ward, Matt Allard.
Winnipeg city councillor for the St. Boniface ward, Matt Allard. Jordan Pearn / Global News

After a successful past few months for Winnipeg’s additional active transport routes, one city councillor is pushing for the routes — which were set up during the COVID-19 pandemic for cyclists and pedestrians — to come back permanently next year.

Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface) told 680 CJOB his motion at the city’s infrastructure renewal and public works committee Wednesday was passed, and he’s hopeful the motion will be passed unanimously when it gets to council.

Six more streets, he said, have been added at the committee to the nine stretches of road that were closed to vehicle traffic 12 hours a day, seven days a week as part of Winnipeg’s Open Streets initiative.

Allard is hoping to clear a few more hurdles at City Hall in order to put the street closures in place in 2021, as there’s not much time left this year, based on the city’s existing by-laws.

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Read more: Winnipeg extended cycling and pedestrian routes shutter

“So far, we have council weighing in, saying, ‘this has been really successful’, he said, “here’s another five or six streets to consider for next year.

“We had that latest round of talks based on communities asking us to just keep these things open.

“Unfortunately, the way the council calendar works, it looks like if it does get to council for an ‘open them now’ vote, it’ll only give us about 10 days of reopening to October long weekend.”

Click to play video 'Cycling advocate, some city councillors support active transportation extension' Cycling advocate, some city councillors support active transportation extension
Cycling advocate, some city councillors support active transportation extension

Allard’s motion would have to pass through the city’s executive policy committee and council before the street use — including the added ones — can be brought back next spring.

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Earlier this month, advocate and executive director of the Winnipeg Trails Association, Anders Swanson, told Global News he thinks city leaders need to improve active transportation in Winnipeg in general.

“There are thousands of kilometres of roads in Winnipeg and only very few of them have been designed to prioritize safety for people on foot or walking or pushing a stroller or travelling in groups,” Swanson said.

“I think all the politicians need to ride a bicycle and take transit a bit more often and think like the people who are needing to use this.”