Cycling and pedestrian bridge from Osborne to downtown needed, councillor says

Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi says people in her area have dreamed for years about a pedestrian and bike bridge connecting Osborne Village to downtown.

City hosts workshop to provide information and gather feedback Thursday evening

The proposed Osborne to downtown walk-bike bridge would connect McFadyen Park on Assiniboine Avenue to Fort Rouge Park on River Avenue. (City of Winnipeg/Facebook)

Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi says people in her area have dreamed for years about a pedestrian and bike bridge connecting Osborne Village to downtown.

The City of Winnipeg will host a workshop Thursday evening to provide information and gather feedback about the proposed link between McFadyen Park on Assiniboine Avenue and Fort Rouge Park on River Avenue.

Gerbasi said the idea makes sense for a densely populated and pedestrian-friendly area.

"It's really exciting to think that we could have a cycling route through the Village, connecting two neighbourhoods, and then all the people who pass through those neighbourhoods directly to The Forks, to downtown," she said in an interview on CBC's Information Radio.

The workshop will take place at Augustine United Church on River Avenue. The deadline to RSVP for the workshop was Jan. 22, but people can also go to an online survey to learn more and share feedback.

Reaction to the proposal on social media has been mixed, with some questioning the need for a new bridge between the Osborne Street and Donald Street bridges while other parts of the city face pressing infrastructure needs.

Gerbasi pushed back against the argument that the existing bridges are adequate active transportation infrastructure.

"Have you ever cycled over the Donald Street bridge? It's really not a cycling route. It's not done by very many people. This would be safe, comfortable, attractive, attracting people to take their bikes, leave their cars at home and commute to work," she said.

"Osborne Street is farther away. This is really a new connection that I think is really needed when you look at the density of the Village," she said.

Gerbasi also said other parts of the city have seen active transportation infrastructure investments, including the Disraeli Bridge and Chief Peguis Trail bridge.

"I don't think it's a comparison. I don't think we should be dividing it into quadrants of the city for active transportation," she said.

The bridge would also create a link between the city's active transportation system and the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor through Osborne Station, Gerbasi said.

In addition to the workshop Thursday, University of Manitoba architecture students will install a warming hut at the approximate location of the proposed bridge, with information for people about the bridge. The warming hut will be unveiled at The Forks on Friday and the moved into place shortly after.

"This is actually the design process. When we have these projects designed and planned, then when the funding becomes available, then we're ready to go. This is part of that process of actually getting it shovel-ready," Gerbasi said.

Funding for the bridge hasn't been budgeted. Gerbasi said there are a few possible funding partners for the bridge, including local non-profits and federal government green infrastructure funds.

With files from Information Radio