St. Boniface residents, businesses add their voices to scrap massive interchange
Councillor for St. Boniface says project, now estimated at more than $250M, is out of hand
Coun. Matt Allard wants to scrap the plans for a major overhaul at the intersection of Marion and Archibald streets in Winnipeg.
The councillor for St. Boniface says the project, now estimated to cost more than $250 million, has gotten out of hand and may balloon to $500 million.
"[It's] not appropriate, not viable for Winnipeg and also [not] in consideration of the neighbourhood it would be built in. It's big. I don't know that many people realize the scale and the size of what was being proposed," he said.
Improving the flow of traffic at the busy intersection is a priority for city planners, but Allard wants them to go back to the drawing board.
The plan requires a realignment of Marion that would affect about 140 properties, some of which could face expropriation.
"Quite a few businesses that would have to be [expropriated] as part of this project, and that's part of their neighbourhood," Allard said.
"I also want to stress that with the people that I've been talking to, there's been almost universal opposition to this proposed option from people who don't live near the neighbourhood, just people that are interested in the project. I just think this isn't the right option," Allard said.
Resident worried about emergency access
Ted Borra who lives on Deniset Street, is worried about the project's design which calls for a noise barrier on his street that he says could change the neighbourhood.
"We're going to be closed in, so in an emergency, how are you going to get out? You're going to have one outlet here I believe on Cusson Street." he said.
Borra is also concerned about the potential for more traffic in the area, and on his street.
Business owners angry
Georgia Skarpias, who owns Hair Passion on Marion Street, is one of dozens of business owners in the area facing expropriation.
"The night I found out we were going to be expropriated was a shock to me." Skarpias said.
Skarpias said she is not against the idea of having an underpass on Marion but she had no idea how massive the construction project was going to be.
She said city officials told her she would get market value for her property, but she said it falls way short.
"They would have maybe given me $200,000 or $190 000," she said. "I have spent $200,000 to buy this building and another $70 000 to fix it to what I wanted."
Skarpias was also surprised to hear that Allard is now pushing for the project to be scrapped.
She said that's a change, since he didn't seem interested in listening to residents and business owners when they expressed their concerns in April.
She's now part of the group that started a petition to have the proposal thrown out.
"Why didn't he listen to us from the beginning?" she said.
"It caused us so much grief and so much walking from door to door, hundreds of houses," she said.
Mayor Brian Bowman said he is happy to see Allard has feedback from the neighbourhood, and he looks forward to discussing options with the councillor.
Allard will ask the infrastructure and public works committee to receive the interchange plans as information, but ask the administration to go back to the drawing board to find a more workable solution to the traffic problems in the neighbourhood.
The final plan must eventually be approved by city council.