Winnipeggers living along Route 90 aren’t happy about a plan to build a large wall between the roadway and their homes.
On Tuesday, the city’s public works committee reviewed a report created with help from the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, which wants to see a barrier put up along Route 90 in St. James.
The route is currently lined by a chain link fence, but businesses want to see a more aesthetically pleasing concrete or plastic barrier.
The idea, dubbed Chamber Way, aims to improve one of the city’s main routes to and from the airport and would see a concrete fence extend from St. Matthews Avenue to Ness Avenue.
But people living in the area say they don’t want to live behind a solid concrete wall.
“I think it’s time that, you know, people realize that we live here, and you know, there’s certain issues that we would be concerned with if they put up a wall – one of them being security,” said Alan Castell, whose home backs onto Route 90.
The idea was first pitched in 2006 by the Chamber of Commerce, and earlier this year the public works committee agreed to work on a report to explore the idea with the chamber.
Castell spoke out against the plans at the meeting on Tuesday, and said he isn’t happy about the idea coming up again after a long break.
“The part that amazes us is that nobody has ever talked to us in the 10 years. So, that’s the part that kind of got me upset,” said Castell. “I tried to reach out to the chamber a year ago. I sent an email to them, with no response.”
Another area resident, Wally Christensen, worries the barrier would increase crime near his home.
“I’m definitely against it. I mean, think about it, common sense tells you it’s a perfect corridor for people to come in at night and break into garages,” said Christensen.
Castell is also worried about crime and said his neighbourhood is relatively safe right now.
"We don't have break-ins into the garage, we don't have any problems there," said Castell. "The majority of people along that strip don't approve of something that is going to block their property and don't approve something that is going to hide us behind a concrete wall."
Coun. Scott Fielding told the committee more community consultation would be needed on the Chamber Way idea before they could move forward with it.
According to the report, the plan would cost about $7 million, and there are still a number of questions about exactly how it would be executed.
The report also suggested the fence could be made of plastic panels and reinforced steel posts rather than concrete.
The committee has taken the report as information, and for now, the Chamber of Commerce is going to keep looking for solutions to beautify the route.
“I'm not sure how quickly the city wants to move on this project, probably not very quickly," said Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce CEO Dave Angus. "So we'll engage the community. Maybe there's some other solutions we can find, beyond fencing. Maybe, we've looked at doing something along the median."