First Steps Towards Portage & Main Renewal Recommended

WINNIPEG - Portage and Main, Winnipeg’s historic intersection, has long been a part of our City’s narrative, playing a key role in both the physical and cultural landscapes. Since its closure to pedestrians over 40 years ago, Winnipeg’s downtown has changed significantly, requiring a need to redefine and renew how this intersection supports and connects people, places, and transportation across Winnipeg.

An administrative report coming forward for consideration by Executive Policy Committee and Council, recommends a phased-in approach to improve accessibility and connectivity at the intersection of Portage and Main. This approach would allow the City of Winnipeg to align its work with private sector investment that is planned or already underway on the properties located at the intersection.

"Public assets owned by the City of Winnipeg have been neglected for years at this intersection,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. "While significant private sector investment is underway at this intersection, the city has left its assets, both above grade and below grade, to suffer from little maintenance or upkeep. This isn't fair to property owners and it isn't fair to the thousands of additional people now calling downtown their home. Common sense would dictate that as private sector investment and renewal is made at this intersection, public investment should be aligned to ensure we can achieve the greatest public and private benefit possible from investments at this intersection."

The report is recommending that the Portage and Main intersection be identified as a priority for renewal that would allow full use of the intersection by everyone, both at street level and in the underground, while increasing walkability, safety, and connectivity of the intersection with the rest of downtown. Underscoring the recommendation to prioritize investment in the intersection, is the fact that significant private sector investment is either underway or is planned at the intersection, including the repair and redevelopment of the private sector plaza at the Richardson Building, proposed to commence as early as fall 2018.

In addition to recommending a phased-in approach to renewing the intersection, the administrative report also recommends:

  • Establishing a Portage and Main working group – to ensure active collaboration and consultation between private sector property owners and city officials;
  • Creating a Portage and Main capital project to be funded in the amount of $3.5 million;
  • Investing in work at street level, and in the concourse, that aligns with investments already being made by private stakeholders at the intersection; and
  • Issuing an RFP for Architectural and Engineering services for preliminary work to ensure that the project collaborates with private stakeholders, and integrates all aspects of re-introducing pedestrians at the intersection, and to produce a Class 3 cost estimate.

To date, the Public Service has engaged in two contracts to do conceptual work associated with the removing the barriers at the intersection. Dillon Consulting was engaged to complete a study that focused on the work involved in removing the physical barriers and the potential impacts to traffic. Perkins + Will were engaged to help develop a vision for Portage and Main to make the intersection more pedestrian friendly, to explore new urban design opportunities, and to review the public spaces to support private investment. The cost of the traffic study, which included expansion of the original scope, was $134,300, and the contract that was awarded to Perkins+Will was for $70,000.

The Administrative Report is available on the City of Winnipeg Decision Making Information System (DMIS) and will be considered by Executive Policy Committee on October 18, 2017.