Winnipeg cuts into Main Street sidewalk to make way for loading zone

A new construction project in the Exchange District is trying to meet the needs of multiple stakeholders, but not everyone is happy.

Last summer, bike lanes in the area ate up some of the loading zones, leaving area businesses with fewer options for deliveries.

To offset this, the city started adding a loading zone on Main Street and Bannatyne Avenue in late summer, taking up about half of the existing sidewalk for the project.

The manager of a business right across from the construction site said there aren’t many nearby options for loading.

“They’re either stopping in the road or taking up spaces in the parking lot across the street a lot of the time. It’s just kind of a mess,” said Nicholas Mann, general manager of Across the Board Game Café

“It’s been trickier to get people to deliver stuff at all occasionally. So it hasn’t been the end of the world, but it’s frustrating and the drivers seem frustrated by it.”

A construction project adding a loading zone on Main Street is causing a controversy.

The city says average downtown sidewalks are three-and-a-half to four metres wide, and this one will be about two to two-and-a-half metres wide.

City Councillor Jeff Browaty, member of the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure and Public Works, said he has concerns about the width of the new sidewalk.

“It just feels like the sidewalk’s too narrow,” he said.

“These are busy sidewalks. This isn’t a suburban sidewalk in a local neighbourhood where the amount of traffic is fairly low. There’s dozens of people in peak hours who are using these sidewalks.”

David Patman, the city’s Manager of Transportation at Public Works, said there are other areas where the sidewalk does become skinnier downtown, for patios and in front of businesses.

“We wouldn’t want to go any narrower than what we have here. This is a compromised solution because of the needs of the tenants and the loading zones. This is a bit of give and take between the users.”

Patman said the solution was needed after the bike lanes were already installed and area businesses voiced their concerns.

“We learned post-construction from the tenants at the 211 Bannatyne that there were issues with the loading zones that we had proposed.”

The project started in the late summer and it’s expected to wrap up by the end of October, with a total price tag of about $75,000.

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