Browaty demands release of Portage and Main study
Winnipeg city councillor filed freedom-of-information request for city document
Coun. Jeff Browaty is demanding the release of a Portage and Main traffic study after taking the unusual step of filing a freedom-of-information request for the city-commissioned document.
The North Kildonan councillor, who is the vocal opponent at city council of reopening Winnipeg's famed intersection to pedestrians, said the city has denied access to a $116,000 study that includes some of the costs and traffic considerations that may result from a project favoured by Mayor Brian Bowman.
"I think it's time that this report comes out in public. In the interest of openness and transparency, today I'm calling on Mayor Bowman to join me in asking the city administration to release the report," Browaty said at the intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street.
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Browaty said the report in question, by Dillon Consulting, was awarded one year ago. He said the city denied his freedom-of-information request on the basis it will be released within 90 days, anyway.
While it's common for opposition parties at the Manitoba Legislature to file freedom-of-information requests, the practice is rare for elected officials at city hall.
Bowman made reopening Portage and Main an election-campaign promise and at one point hoped the intersection would reopen to pedestrians in time for the Canada Summer Games, slated for this summer.
The project has been put off until 2018 at the earliest. The cost has not been disclosed.
Bowman said at his State of the City speech in February that most of the property owners around the intersection now support reopening. The Bank of Montreal is not among the owners whom the mayor said signed letters of the support for the project.
In a statement, the mayor's office said Browaty appears to be unaware that reopening the intersection is part of a broader plan to improve connections between separate sections of downtown Winnipeg.
"Coun. Browaty voted against the traffic study in 2015 that he's now demanding access to today. His lack of vision and opposition to increasing both accessibility and connectivity of the intersection is well known, and his desire to treat property owners at Winnipeg's most iconic intersection as second-class citizens is disappointing," Bowman spokesman Jeremy Davis said via email.
"Making the Portage and Main intersection more accessible to pedestrians and improving connectivity continues to be a priority for Mayor Bowman. It is more than simply allowing pedestrians to cross the street. It's an acknowledgement the intersection is a key connection point for significant private investments downtown."