February 11, 2010
By Trevor Suffield, Canstar-Metro
Montie Lowe knows he wouldn’t be alive if he didn’t have access to active transportation routes around the city. The 68-year-old Charleswood resident says he is the oldest living kidney transplant patient in the province and credits the cycling he does around with keeping him healthy. “The reason I think I’m still here today is because I have exercised as much as I can,” said Lowe, a former educator. Lowe was one of approximately 30 residents to attend the city’s 2010 Active Transportation Program open house last week at Silver Heights Community Centre.
The open house was an opportunity by the city to obtain input from the public on new routes in the Silver Avenue, Moray, and Sherwin area. The Yellow Ribbon Greenway path is one of 35 projects that make up the $20.4 million infrastructure stimulus program that is equally financed by all three levels of government. The Yellow Ribbon path will be constructed along the undeveloped Silver Avenue right-of-way, immediately south of the airport and the Canadian Forces Base.
City of Winnipeg active transportation manager Kevin Nixon said that the open houses are more like workshops where they hope to get feedback from residents before the next steps. “These are to get input from the public to make sure that we design these in such a way that it makes sense for the neighbourhood,” said Nixon. He added there would be workshops at a later date to show how the feedback was incorporated into trail designs, and so far the feedback had been generally positive.
But Jameswood resident, Nami Seito, whose house backs onto the proposed Yellow Ribbon trail, said the new pathway is not a welcome development to the area.She said neighbours are concerned about the loss of the local natural environment as well as the noise the pathways will bring to the neighbourhood. “We like the quiet with lots of deer and animals. And if a bike path goes through, it will kill that,” said Seito, who has lived in the area for more than 10 years.
Nixon said that concerns like that are normal but the benefits of a pathway, which includes reduced crime, are hard to ignore. “Studies have shown that you get less crime with bike paths because there are more eyes on the street,” he said. Seito said another concern was declining property values, but Nixon said it’s actually the opposite. “The research we’ve seen says it does affect the value, and it makes housing prices go up because people like to live in walkabout communities,” said Nixon.
Bike to the Future member Ted Mann was one of the earliest proponents for the Yellow Ribbon pathway and said he can’t wait get rolling on it. “I’m very happy with the trail, it’s going to make an enormous difference and there’s going to be a lot less bicycle problems here,” he said. Nixon said construction of the projects will begin in the early summer and is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
To see the complete route map for the city’s active transportation routes, and to provide feedback, visit www.winnipeg.ca/activetransportation