In 2016, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ brought together the community to discuss the need to open up Portage and Main. Below is information about that process and findings that are still relevant today as opening Portage and Main to pedestrians is still important to the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Board and Members, as well as our larger community.
Downtowns are the economic drivers of cities. They are the face we present to the rest of the world. Cities need to invest more in their downtowns to keep their cities sustainable and competitive. Attracting investment, tourism and business development can only be achieved by taking advantage of our downtown’s history, culture and people-centered neighbourhoods. Like Portage and Main, these are our greatest assets.
Portage and Main is a hub that can connect The Forks, Exchange District, waterfront and the Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (SHED). Connecting these neighbourhoods will keep people walking and exploring, and will give them another reason to work, live and visit in the downtown.
It is vital for the future of Winnipeg that Portage and Main open to all; vehicular traffic, cyclists and pedestrians alike. People and pedestrians in the area create vibrancy and that vibrancy and energy drives development, which in turn creates opportunities for more employees, residents and more in our downtown. Our vision is for a downtown Winnipeg that is safe, clean and accessible to all. We need to start imagining what Portage and Main can be, how we can continue to support business and residential development in the heart of downtown, and how opening Portage and Main to pedestrians is the next step in the ongoing revitalization of our downtown and showcase of the heart of our city, our province and our country.
For downtown Winnipeg to reach its’ potential, it needs to be a place where people will want to hang out and walk from street corner to street corner. This needs to happen at Portage and Main.
Here’s the link to the full report and findings from this process: Imagine Portage & Main
2016 Imagine Portage and Main
Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, will help open up discussion on Portage & Main. Tim will share lessons and insights learned in transforming Times Square’s busiest street into a vibrant pedestrian plaza – helping New York become the top tourist destination in the world. Tim will also explain what community engagement process he undertook to listen, mobilize, and empower the voice of members of the business community, general public, city departments, and other stakeholders, to create a solution for what was deemed initially their local challenge.
Schedule of events in 2016 had included:
Meeting with the City of Winnipeg
- Directors, managers, and planners from key City departments will speak to Tim Tompkins about the collaborative process undertaken by the Times Square Alliance in working with the public and private sector, changing obstacles into opportunities for a better, more vibrant community.
Meeting with Portage and Main Property Owners
- Property owners will discuss the value of placemaking and how it can lead to increased property value. Tim Tompkins will speak to his experience in working with property managers in Times Square and how they were fine with slowing down traffic to accommodate pedestrians as long as it translated into greater sales … which it has!
Portage and Main Panel Discussion:
- Tim Tompkins discussed how he collaborated with Snohetta Architects and the NYC Department of Transportation on the plans for the transformation of Times Square, making it a vibrant, shared-street for all transportation modes, and how this increased density has resulted in significant economic and social spin-offs.
- Greetings from John Orlikow, City Councillor for River Heights / Fort Garry Ward
- History of Portage and Main: John Kiernan, City of Winnipeg’s Director of Planning, Property, and Development
- Making the Development Connections: Angela Mathieson, President and CEO, CentreVenture
- People Over Cars, Placemaking Lessons from Times Square: Tim Tompkins, President and CEO, Times Square Alliance
Photos from morning sessions:
Photos from evening panel:
Watch the video of the event here:
The story of Times Square is meant to inspire us and create a call-to-action. Here are some precedents observed throughout North America, to help educate and engage the public to imagine what is possible for Portage and Main.
Take a look into the past with storyboards depicting Portage and Main designs and concepts over the last several decades, depicting the rationale and ease of opening up Portage and Main.