Portage and Main at crossroads of re-opening to pedestrians
The idea to make Winnipeg's famous Portage and Main intersection open to pedestrians is gaining ground.
- Talking the walk on Portage and Main
- Things you might not know about Portage and Main
- City to revisit opening Portage and Main
Brent Bellamy, an architect with Number TEN group in Winnipeg, hopes city council will re-open the walled corner as a sign Winnipeg is changing.
At present, the famously-windy intersection — known across the country and celebrated in song and literature — is a sad, lonely place for people, Bellamy said.
"There's no stores … there's very little retail, there's no sidewalk vibrancy or culture," he said.
"It's quite an amazing thing — can you imagine in Toronto if they decided they were going to close Queen Street, or St.Catherine's in Montreal? People would go nuts."
The problem is Winnipeg has developed with the car in mind, not the person, Bellamy said.
"I've had people ask me how to get to the Starbucks, and we could — tourists — could see the Starbucks and I had to walk them all the way through the underground to get to it because I couldn't describe how to get there," he said.
Once a bustling, lively corner, pedestrians were chased underground when the city, in 1976, signed an agreement with private developers to open an underground concourse linking shopping malls under the intersection.
The agreement included a long-term deal to permanently close the street-level pedestrian crossings.
City Coun. Jenny Gerbasi intends to table a motion today to reopen the famous intersection to foot traffic by the time that deal expires in 2018.
"Cities are changing and becoming more focused on people, not just traffic cutting through as fast as possible, especially in the middle of a downtown," Gerbasi told CBC News on Tuesday.
Bellamy hopes if the intersection reopens it will bring more people-friendly urban planning to the city.