Portage and Main barricades like Berlin Wall, councillor says
Pedestrians were blocked from the corner when the city, in 1976, signed an agreement with developers
Winnipeggers have a Berlin Wall in their downtown that needs to come down, said a city councillor on Wednesday.
Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, who has said that keeping the Portage Avenue and Main Street intersection closed to pedestrians kills a part of downtown, renewed her call for the barricades to be removed.
"It's gotta get moving," Gerbasi told her colleagues at a meeting of the executive policy committee.
She attended the meeting as a delegate, not a committee member, urging EPC to find the "political will" to open up one of the country's most famous intersections to pedestrians.
"We have a Berlin Wall that we could tear down right in our downtown" says an impassioned <a href="https://twitter.com/JennyGerbasi">@JennyGerbasi</a> about portage/main barricades—@chrisgloverCBC
Portage and Main, which dates back to 1862, is home to the city's tallest buildings and holder of the title as the country's windiest corner.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/JennyGerbasi">@JennyGerbasi</a> "it's gotta get moving" says action on tearing down portage/main pedestrian barricades hasn't had "political will" <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcmb?src=hash">#cbcmb</a>—@chrisgloverCBC
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.
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Property owners on the four corners of the intersection have agreements with the city to keep the barricades up until 2019, but there are options available that could see the corners remain closed for another 40 years.
During his election campaign, Mayor Brian Bowman promised to tear down the barricades by 2019.
On Wednesday, Gerbasi called for consultation with business groups and EPC voted in favour.
That motion will now go to council for full vote and if passed, consultation with the businesses would begin as soon as possible.