Enhancing Pedestrian Movement



Portage and Main is an intersection that is well known across Canada, and famous in our own province.  First occupied in the 1800s by a general store, it eventually became the centre of the banking industry in western Canada, and is now a hub for some of our city’s main transportation routes. In its earlier days the bustling intersection also served as an impromptu meeting place as well as a venue for various parades and events. This ended in the 1970’s when Portage and Main was permanently closed to pedestrians, and construction on the underground concourse began. In recent years some Winnipeg residents have begun discussing the opening of Portage and Main to pedestrians once again, not only to repopulate the intersection on ground level, but to help revitalize our downtown as a whole.


  • Will make it easier for people to walk around our downtown
  • Add life to our sidewalks in a way that only pedestrians can
  • Will make downtown more appealing, as part of what makes downtown vibrant is simply the ability to walk around
  • 85% of BIZ members would like to see Portage and Main reopened
  • Will only add an additional 55 seconds to the average commuters trip


  • There are dozens of underground shops and services that rely on underground foot traffic for business
  • It will marginally slow vehicular traffic
  • Opening the intersection might lack support from a large number of Winnipeg residents


  • There is a potential risk of hurting existing businesses who have invested millions to the upgrades to the underground concourse
  • A fear of plummeting rental values because of diverted pedestrian movement exists
  • An opened intersection could compromise the safety of pedestrian traffic


  • This could put the city on a new track to a different vision
  • Opening the intersection to pedestrians again can help revitalize the city’s core
  • It could bring the 4.5 million annual visitors of the Forks and the ballpark further into downtown Winnipeg
  • It can connect pedestrians to other significant areas of our city like Chinatown, Waterfront, and the Exchange District
  • Opening the intersection would allow pedestrians, both local and visiting, to walk the province’s most famous intersection

Option 1 – Pilot project

  • Partially rip down the aging barriers
  • Assess critical information over one year
  • Determine the safety of pedestrians and effect on underground businesses

Option 2 – A staged approach to making the province’s most famous intersection a destination

  • Remove pedestrian barriers at Portage and Main
  • Provide transitional assistance and support for the businesses in the underground mall
  • Develop pads and surface parking lots between the Forks, the ballpark, and Portage and Main
  • Line the connecting streets with offices, storefronts, and residences
  • Create opportunities for businesses from the underground mall to populate new spaces lining the connections between Portage and Main and other important Winnipeg destinations (Chinatown, the Exchange District, Waterfront, The Forks, etc.)
  • Invest in street furniture and landscaping to provide shelter from the wind and increase pedestrian comfort
  • Encourage vibrant street signs and other wayfinding strategies to help with navigation and provide visual interest

Past Blogs/News

CBC News. Things you might not know about Portage and Main. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/things-you-might-not-know-about-portage-and-main-1.1262369

Cuciz, S. (2015). Council moves forward with study of reopening Portage and Main in Winnipeg. Global News. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/2060143/council-moves-forward-with-study-of-re-opening-portage-and-main/

Grande, S. (2013). The reopening of Portage and Main…getting it donw… Stefano Grande Tumblr.  Retrieved from http://stefanogrande.tumblr.com/post/67682331603/the-re-opening-of-portage-and-maingetting-it

Grande, S., SMART Tab (2014). Battle for Portage and Main comes down to city vision. Retrieved from http://mytoba.ca/life/battle-for-portage-and-main-comes-down-to-city-vision/

Nickel, L. (2013). Pressure building to reopen Portage and Main to pedestrians. Global News. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/778573/pressure-building-to-reopen-portage-and-main-to-pedestrians/

Pursaga, J. (2015). Tead-down Berlin wall of Winnipeg, reopen Portage an Main: Gerbasi. Retrieved from http://www.winnipegsun.com/2015/06/10/tear-down-berlin-wall-of-winnipeg-reopen-portage-and-main-gerbasi