City holding off on Portage and Main intersection work

The City of Winnipeg is hold off on awarding a Portage and Main revitalization contract until after voters have their say this fall in a plebiscite about reopening the intersection to pedestrians.

Mayor Brian Bowman says contract won't be awarded before October vote

A plan to revitalize Portage and Main and open one side to pedestrians is on hold, pending an October plebiscite. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg is holding off on awarding a Portage and Main revitalization contract until after voters have their say this fall in a plebiscite about reopening the intersection to pedestrians.

The city planned to award a contract to conduct intersection upgrades and reopen one side of the intersection — Portage Avenue E., between the Richardson Building and the Bank of Montreal — to pedestrians by the fall of 2019.

The contract, worth up to $1.5 million, was supposed to be awarded by July 16.

On Friday afternoon, Mayor Brian Bowman said that plan is on hold, pending the vote on Oct. 24.

On Friday morning, North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty, who opposes the reopening of the intersection to pedestrians, called on the city to hold off on awarding the intersection-revitalization work.

"The public is being asked to have a say on it, so why are we proceeding with it?" Browaty asked in an interview.

He said he does not oppose a separate contract to assess the state of the underground concourse at Portage and Main, which faces repairs. That contract, worth up to $2 million, was supposed to be awarded by July 31.

North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty wanted the city to hold off on awarding intersection-revitalization work at Portage and Main. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

​Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk, who also opposes reopening the intersection, also wanted the city to hold off on the intersection-revitalization contract.

The two contracts were posted months before council voted to proceed with a Portage and Main plebiscite.

The question of whether the Portage Avenue and Main Street intersection ought to be reopened to pedestrians will appear on the municipal election ballot, along with a selection of candidates for mayor, council and school board.

Although the plebiscite is non-binding, Bowman and Motkaluk have committed to respecting the result.

The mayor campaigned in 2014 on reopening the intersection.