A New York City planning expert who helped make Times Square into a bustling pedestrian plaza will be in Winnipeg this week to offer advice on opening Portage and Main.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is hosting a public forum on Thursday with Tim Tompkins, president and CEO of the Times Square Alliance, to discuss the idea of opening the city's iconic intersection to pedestrians.

The forum will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Fairmont Winnipeg. It's open to the public and free of charge.

Tompkins will talk about how he collaborated with architects and the New York City Department of Transportation and engaged with community stakeholders to change Times Square's busiest street into a pedestrian plaza.

Stephanie Voyce, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ's manager of placemaking, cleanliness and transportation, said the discussion aims to look at "how we might open it up again to pedestrians, but also thinking realistically as to how we make that change, how we deal with traffic and other concerns."

Tompkins will also meet with City of Winnipeg officials and with property owners who have long-standing agreements with the city to keep Portage and Main closed to pedestrians.

Portage and Main was closed decades ago as part of a development deal to build an underground mall at the intersection. The barricades were meant to guide pedestrian traffic through the mall.

Voyce said officials have pulled out designs from more than 10 years ago to get Winnipeggers thinking about what to do with Portage and Main. The designs are on display in the underground rotunda at Portage and Main.