Truck Collision Highlights Gateway System Closures and Complex System of Property
It’s a busy route to Jets games, the convention center and dozens of other private downtown buildings that have served Winnipeggers for decades.
The city’s extensive system of connected walkways is a popular option for avoiding snow, ice and freezing temperatures in âWinterpegâ.
And it’s an important part of a system of air-conditioned walkways that spans over two kilometers, including the underground circus of Portage Avenue and Main Street.
However, with this comes a complex web of ownership and operation, as well as some recent confusion regarding hours of operation.
This maze of property was brought to light this week, after a snow haul truck collided with a walkway south of the intersection of Donald Street and Portage Avenue just after midnight on Tuesday.
Safety concerns after the collision adjacent to the Canada Life Center closed this section. And because it operates as part of a partnership between Canad Inns, True North Sports and Entertainment and the city, city officials couldn’t immediately say when it would reopen.
Fortunately for hockey fans, that was the case just before Tuesday’s 7 p.m. Jets game, said Dan Lussier, CEO of Canad Inns.
The gateway’s standard hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. daily, with closures on statutory holidays, the City of Winnipeg website says.
The city’s entire gateway system, which includes the Portage Avenue and Main Street Underground Circus, is at least two kilometers long, and there are 22 different agreements that cover sections of the system, which vary in terms of ownership, management and maintenance, said Jess Kuczera. , a City of Winnipeg real estate administrator, in an emailed statement.
Most are owned by private companies, some of which are run by the city, the statement said.
Lussier said building owners can keep the gateways open after hours at their own discretion, which generally allows the gateways to open for all Manitoba Jets and Moose games and concerts and other major events at the Canada Life Center, even on statutory holidays.
But he said other holiday closures reflect reduced numbers of people downtown and safety concerns when buildings around the gateway are closed.
“If the buildings are not occupied, it is just for the safety of the building and its occupants,” he said.
True North owns and operates several segments of gateways that connect to True North Square and the Canada Life Center.
True North senior vice president Kevin Donnelly noted that some Jets fans encountered locked catwalk doors and had to exit unexpectedly on Remembrance Day, when there appeared to be little warning from a closing.
âI think everyone was caught off guard by the closure of this walkway when we had scheduled an event with 14,000 people to come,â Donnelly said.
Many fans who use the skywalk system park a few blocks away and leave bulky outerwear in their vehicles. A significant number of people forced out by last week’s closure were not comfortably dressed for the windy conditions of the winter storm.
Noting that elevated walkways are rarely closed, Donnelly said better communication between owners could help prevent this inconvenience in the future. He believes the information-sharing issues may be linked to the pandemic, which has triggered staff changes, an extended skywalk closure and other smaller interruptions.
“As we come out of COVID and things get back to normal … that’s probably a good reason for someone to get the group back together and have an exit association (communicating) … We are happy to participate “, did he declare.
While many skywalk users applauded the system itself on Thursday, some argue that more access is needed.
âI think it should be open on (holidays)â¦ 100%. I know it’s less volume, but there are people who need it a lot, especially now in winter,â Amun said. Mayol.
Another man agreed, noting that he had recently been unable to use the catwalk to reach a Moose game due to an unexpected shutdown.
âIf you have a skywalk system, it has to be functional, it has to be useful,â said Jeff, who didn’t want his last name published.
In contrast, others were happy with the current hours and said some closures were understandable.
âI think that makes sense (for the holidays)â¦ because it’s downtown and a lot of places are closed (so) anyway,â said Kelly Ballard.
Kuczera said the city was working with building owners “to make sure the walkway is open to the public consistently.”
Com. Sherri Rollins, whose Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry neighborhood comprises most of the gateway system, said she heard Winnipeggers mistakenly believe the entire gateway system was owned and operated by the city.
âI think Winnipeggers feel like they’re in the public domain at this point, but it’s actually a series of connected systemsâ¦ You’re in a series of at least 38 different buildings with different owners, âshe said.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne enjoys telling the stories of this city, especially when it comes to politics. Joyanne became the City Hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
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