The City of Winnipeg will spend at least $30 million to help ease traffic congestion around Polo Park Shopping Centre, Mayor Sam Katz announced today.
Speaking to reporters at the Chapters store on Empress Street on Thursday morning, Katz said council will "invest a minimum of $30 million" towards improving traffic infrastructure in the area.
Of that amount, about $20 million will come from the sale of Canad Inns Stadium, the now-former home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The city will contribute the remaining $10 million.
Katz said the improvements will include extending St. Matthews Avenue near the stadium site — where a new Target store is expected to be built — and upgrading Ellice Avenue and other streets.
City officials will meet with businesses and people in the area to share plans and consider feedback, Katz said.
The Polo Park area is known for heavy traffic congestion, as shoppers flock to the mall and nearby stores.
'A long time coming,' says mall manager
Polo Park general manager Deborah Green says she hopes better traffic flow around the mall will entice more people to shop there.
"I think it's fabulous. It's been a long time coming," Green said.
"There's always been traffic issues in this area of the city. And with all the development that has happened, and is happening over the next few years, it's going to be a plus for everyone."
Jino Distasio of the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Winnipeg says the traffic issue in the Polo Park area has to be addressed.
"They're really going to have to tighten things up, and traffic is one of those limiting factors," he said in an interview.
"If I can't get into that store, I might just keep driving."
Distasio said the new Ikea store that opened last week on Kenaston Boulevard and Sterling Lyon Parkway isn't too far from Polo Park, and it's very competitive.
Shoppers in the Polo Park area said Wednesday that traffic can get pretty hectic there, especially on weekends.
"The traffic just keeps getting worse and worse. Something has to be done. It's just getting impossible," said Karen Cousins.