Calming traffic woes in rapidly growing ward a priority for Old Kildonan voters
Some residents of the Winnipeg ward say they think extending the Chief Peguis Trail would help ease congestion
Maria Barasi welcomes a reporter inside her home in Winnipeg's Old Kildonan area, as car horns blare from the noisy street in front of her. It's about 5 p.m., and a convoy of nearly 15 vehicles line Leila Avenue in both directions. The four-way stop at Manila Road is what's causing the delay.
"It's getting busy. Maybe they could install a stoplight at the end of the street here," Barasi says. "Also widen Leila. Right now it's single lane traffic both ways. It'll be for the safety of the students too."
Traffic issues are one of the concerns highlighted by voters in the Old Kildonan ward ahead of the Oct. 24 Winnipeg civic election, in which three candidates are seeking the Old Kildonan seat: Bradley Gross, Devi Sharma and Kaur Sidhu.
They're issues that come with being a growing ward.
Fast-growing school division
The ward also has a lot of school-age students, and finding space for them all has been an issue. Diane Cameron, currently a trustee in Seven Oaks School Division's Ward 2, says it has been the fastest-growing division in Manitoba in the last decade.
This September, enrolment stood at 11,700, a jump of 410 students from September 2017.
The area's growth is expected to continue. The city expects the Aurora at North Point development on Murray Road to bring 1,200 more houses into Old Kildonan over the next decade. Barasi is not the only person who has noticed that this rapidly growing ward now lacks some of the infrastructure to support it.
"In this area I think traffic is very busy," says 50-year-old engineer Samuel Nestere, who also lives on Leila.
"Instead of having just the single lane here, maybe create some type of residential driveway [like a service road]. It'd be good for the community and for the people with children because they'd have a place to play. That'd be very smart."
Nestere says he rarely sees families spending time in their front yards. He thinks parents are hesitant to let their children play out front because it's so close to such a busy road.
He supports extending the Chief Peguis Trail to McPhillips Street and beyond to help reduce traffic congestion throughout the ward.
"That link from Main Street all the way down to Route 90, if that is in place I think it's a good plan," he says. "Then the traffic in this area may go down."
'We need infrastructure'
Tammy Harder, who lives in the ward and teaches at West Kildonan Collegiate, agrees.
"This election, we need infrastructure," she says. "The fact that we're talking about the connection for the Chief Peguis Trail and the bike path is important."
The preliminary design phase for the west extension of Chief Peguis Trail wrapped up over the summer. City reports say the project is now subject to council and funding approval. At this time, there is no anticipated construction date.
Harder feels that despite the growing population, Old Kildonan still lacks amenities like bike paths and dog parks to promote healthy living among residents. She also wants to see something like a Costco store in the area.
"I'm pretty happy in this ward, but I'd like to see a little bit more on the infrastructure and the amenities," she says. "I feel like we have to drive to other parts of the city to get anything good."
Both Nestere and Harder say they want to know that their elected councillor will fight for the issues the residents are most concerned about.
"I'm not sure though, how powerful Coun. Devi Sharma's voice is sitting around the table with all the other councillors," says Harder.
Sharma has been the Old Kildonan councillor since 2010, winning by a narrow margin of 212 votes in 2014.
"She's maybe not one of the more flamboyant political representatives, but that's not necessarily a bad thing either. We are trying to get new things here, but I don't know if that's been coming down to her not being a big voice," says Harder.
Barasi, Harder and Nestere all say they plan to vote in the Oct. 24 election.
More CBC Manitoba election ward profiles:
- Daniel McIntyre
- Elmwood-East Kildonan
- Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry
- North Kildonan
- Point Douglas
- River Heights-Fort Garry
- St. Boniface
- St. James
- St. Norbert-Seine River
- St. Vital
- Waverley West
Journalism students from Red River College's creative communications program have prepared profiles of each city of Winnipeg ward ahead of the 2018 civic election for CBC Manitoba. Read all of our election 2018 coverage here.