Manitoba

Winnipeggers still want Portage & Main pedestrians, traffic separated

Mr. Bowman, do not tear down this wall. That's what Winnipeggers appear to say in a Probe Research poll about reopening Portage & Main to pedestrians.

Probe Research poll suggests majority of Winnipeggers prefer that barricades remain

Barricades have been in place at Portage and Main since 1979. A Probe Research poll suggests a majority of Winnipeg adults wants them to remain. (Google Street View)

Mr. Bowman, do not tear down this wall.

That's what Winnipeggers appear to say in a Probe Research poll about reopening Portage and Main to pedestrians.

Barricades went up at the intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street in 1979. Mayor Brian Bowman has pledged to remove them after a deal with neighbouring property owners that keeps the crossings closed expires.

But an online Probe Research poll conducted in late June and early July suggests 53 per cent of Winnipeg adults want the barricades to remain, while 42 per cent wish they would be removed.​

"It's the fourth time we've looked at this in almost  20 years, and the numbers haven't really changed that much. The public remains opposed to the idea of removing those barricades," Probe Research president Scott MacKay said Thursday.

Support has inched up from 36 per cent in 1997, the first time Probe asked Winnipeggers about the barricades.

Support for removing the barricades is strongest among younger adults. According to the poll, 61 per cent of Winnipeggers aged 18 to 34 want to remove the barricades.

MacKay said it's possible support for reopening the intersection will rise as this cohort of Winnipeggers ages. He also said strong political leadership — along with a public-information campaign — could change opinion more rapidly.

"It's really not good public policy to be led by the polls, to have the polls serve as a surrogate for political leadership," MacKay said.

The Probe Research poll was conducted between June 30 and July 4 using members of Probe Research's online panel as a sample. The panel's members, in turn, were recruited through Probe Research's quarterly, random telephone survey.

As an online poll, no statistical margin of error can be ascribed to the new survey, but Probe says a margin of error on a probability sample of 404 is 4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Probe conducted minor statistical weighting of the poll to ensure the demographics of the sample match those of the city's population overall.

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