Coun. Ross Eadie pans bike, pedestrian plans for his ward

Mynarski Ward Coun. Ross Eadie met with reporters Monday to point out what he says are flaws in the city's proposed development of a $334M pedestrian and cycling network.

Eadie, cyclists get into debate at media event on Sutherland Avenue over active transportation plan

Coun. Ross Eadie says several specific plans of the $334 million pedestrian and cycling strategy don't make sense in his Mynarski ward, and he will fight against the strategy passing before city council later this week 1:57

Coun. RosEadie says several specific plans of the $334 million pedestrian and cycling strategy don't make sense in his Mynarski ward, and he will fight against the strategy passing before city council later this week.

The city's 20-year active transportation plan passed before the executive policy committee July 8. The strategy calls for expanding the city's bicycle and sidewalk network, improving bicycle parking and pedestrian and cyclist crossings, having more safe and well-lit routes, offering facilities for pedestrians and cyclists and maintaining the bicycle and sidewalk network.

A handful of councillors — including Eadie, Coun. Jeff Browaty, Coun. Russ Wyatt, Coun. Jason Schreyer and Coun. Shawn Dobson — have come out against the project.

Eadie said he plans to table 20 separate motions to change the strategy at a community committee meeting later this week. 

Eadie said he prefers to go through the community committee than table the motions in front of city council because it is a better venue to have the items heard. He also doubts he could get other councillors to second each individual motion at city council.

Greenway 'makes no sense': Eadie

On Monday at a media event at the corner of Sutherland Avenue and Main Street, Eadie said the active transportation plan calls for a greenway along Sutherland that shouldn't be built in that location. There are other, better routes in that part of the neighbourhood that work more effectively for an active transportation route, he said.
Coun. Ross Eadie (left) got into a debate with John Wilmot of the North Winnipeg Commuter Cyclists group during a media event Monday. Eadie said a planned greenway on Sutherland Avenue is flawed. (CBC)

"It makes no sense to even start a consultation on it because nobody is ever going to come across there at Sutherland, because you got people coming out of the traffic tunnel, and in the future [bus rapid transit] is going to run down there," Eadie said. 

He also argued any money for active transportation routes would be better spent making cycling safer on high traffic routes like Main Street.

"Main Street has always been a very dangerous street to ride on," Eadie said. "Why aren't we looking at spending our time looking at a separated bike lane there to keep people safe?"

Eadie debates with cyclists

But two members of the cycling community also showed up at Eadie's press conference to debate his stance on the strategy.

- Laura Donatelli

John Wilmot of the North Winnipeg Commuter Cyclists group told Eadie a number of cyclists do use Sutherland to commute. Wilmot said the street was a good choice because it had modest vehicular traffic on it.

"There has been quite a lot of consultation with this and there has been some good studies done," Wilmot told Eadie as they debated the strategy on the side walk next to Main Street.

The plan has been celebrated among bike enthusiasts in recent months as it's been debated at City Hall.

Laura Donatelli, a volunteer with Bike Winnipeg, also joined the debate with Eadie Monday morning.

"I can't speak to all the details in it, but Ross, I am really concerned that you are veto-ing a plan that is not perfect," she said.

Donatelli said it is important to protect people who use the roads who aren't necessarily driving in a car.

"I think it's terrible that this city is so far behind other cities in valuing and prioritizing the needs of those vulnerable road-users," said Donatelli. 

Eadie, Browaty, Wyatt, Schreyer and Dobson purchased ad time on a local radio station last week to criticize the strategy. 

Browaty had concerns with specific plans he said made no sense, while Wyatt has publicly attacked the plan for being too expensive. Wyatt also said maintenance on the new cycling and walking paths could cut into the city's sidewalk snow-clearing funds.

Mayor Brian Bowman has tried to tamp down the rhetoric on the strategy, saying none of the specific plans will be instituted and no money will be spent without further consultation and appropriate voting by councillors.

With files from Sean Kavanagh


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