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Gillingham wants Portage and Main reopened contradicting election promise

Gillingham wants Portage and Main reopened contradicting election promise
Portage and Main

By: Staff Writer I Winnipeg Tribune

Winnipeg, March 1, 2024 - It was only six years ago that Winnipeggers voted no overwhelmingly to opening Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic and now today, Mayor Scott Gillingham says he wants it open.

At a news conference today, Mayor Scott Gillingham advocated for the reopening of Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic, directly contradicting a campaign promise made during the 2022 election.

The Mayor's announcement comes in response to a newly released public service report detailing the traffic impact and cost of repairing the Portage and Main underground. According to the public service report, repairing the underground infrastructure, which includes replacing the waterproof membrane and ensuring accessibility for all users, would result in four to five years of construction-related traffic delays and a hefty price tag exceeding $73 million.

Despite his earlier pledge to leave Portage and Main as it is, Mayor Gillingham now argues that reopening the intersection to pedestrians is necessary to alleviate commuters from facing prolonged traffic disruptions. He plans to collaborate with Property & Development Chair Sherri Rollins to draft a motion calling for Portage and Main to be reopened by the summer of 2025, coinciding with the launch of the new transit route network.

However, the Mayor's change in stance has not gone unnoticed or unchallenged. Councillor Brian Mayes has expressed his opposition to the motion, citing the need for further deliberation and exploration of alternative options. "There are other options," Mayes emphasized in a telephone interview with Tribune staff today. "I won't support pushing this through in three weeks." He argues that rushing the decision ignores potential alternatives and is divisive.

The debate over the fate of Portage and Main heads to the Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development on March 7, 2024.


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