Manitoba

Traffic troubles may 'seem like a micro-issue,' but are serious safety concern: River Heights-Fort Garry voter

The River Heights-Fort Garry ward, located in southwest Winnipeg, and is full of character and history, with century-old homes and successful local businesses along Academy Road and Grosvenor Avenue. It also faces challenges —​ vehicle break-ins and vandalism have been an issue in the area for years.

Cars speed down back lanes, side streets between major routes in Winnipeg ward, resident says

Kelly Nichols says people speeding down back lanes and side streets in his River Heights neighbourhood are a big concern for him during this civic election. 'I'm not going to wait until one of my boys is hit by a car to start saying something,' he said. (Jenn Walker/CBC)

Kelly Nichols was building a fence in the backyard of his home in Winnipeg's River Heights neighbourhood when Macey, his eight-year-old golden retriever, wandered into the back lane. Moments later, a car sped by, striking and killing the dog in the process.

Six years later, the issue of traffic and parking near Nichols's Lanark Street home remains a concern for him, especially now that he has two young children.

"I'm not going to wait until one of my boys is hit by a car to start saying something," says Nichols. "I'm not going to wait that long."

Residents of the River Heights-Fort Garry ward say that traffic issues like that — and cars racing down back lanes and streets between major routes like Grant Avenue, Corydon Avenue and Academy Road — are among their concerns leading up to the 2018 Winnipeg civic election.

Their current councillor, John Orlikow, faces two challengers: business owner Gary Lenko  and former city councillor Garth Steek.

The back-lane traffic is something Nichols says he's seen, as cars use his back lane as a shortcut to Academy Road businesses.

The use of the back lane isn't the issue for him — it's the speeding. Nichols said he sees it in front of his house, too.

"They whip down the street [Lanark] to beat the light," he said.

Parking problems

That's not the only car trouble in the neighbourhood.

Vehicle break-ins and vandalism have been an issue in the area for years. Several vehicles along Ash Street, between Corydon and Grosvenor avenues, were left with broken windows, homeowners discovered on the morning of Sept. 20.

That type of property crime is not uncommon for the River Heights neighbourhood, whose residents started a Smashed Window Club on Facebook in early 2015. The attention led police to hold community meetings and Manitoba Public Insurance to cancel the deductible for most drivers whose vehicles were vandalized.

Three candidates are running for the River Heights-Fort Garry council seat in Winnipeg's 2018 civic election. (CBC)

But Nichols says even finding street parking can sometimes be a problem in the area.

On any given day, he says Lanark has vehicles parked bumper to bumper — and he believes a large percentage of them aren't homeowners' vehicles. Rather, he thinks they're owned by patrons and employees of the businesses on Academy Road. 

"I've seen people park here, walk to Academy, and not come back for seven hours," says Nichols. 

Having guests over, or parking any sort of delivery truck, becomes a hassle without nearby street parking, says Nichols.

This past summer, Nichols was having soil delivered to his house for a landscaping project. He had to monitor the street for hours in order for a spot to open up. 

Once a spot finally became available, Nichols moved his car to reserve it. Even still, the closest the delivery truck could get was about 100 feet from Nichols's yard. 

"The traffic, the parking … they seem like a micro-issue," says Nichols. "But really, it's a matter of safety."

Winnipeggers will vote for mayor and councillors in 15 city wards on Oct. 24, 2018. (CBC)

More CBC Manitoba election ward profiles:

​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

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