The City of Winnipeg is opening up its annual active transportation routes for pedestrians and cyclists earlier than normal, though the routes will be monitored to ensure Winnipeggers are practising physical distancing to fight the spread of COVID-19, the city announced Tuesday.
Normally, vehicle traffic is restricted to a maximum of one block on the four designated routes every Sunday from the Victoria Day weekend until Thanksgiving.
But as of April 6, the four streets will operate as active transportation routes every day until May 3, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., said Jason Shaw, manager of the city’s emergency operation centre.
Motor vehicle traffic will be restricted to one block both ways on these four streets:
- Lyndale Drive between Cromwell and Gauvin streets.
- Scotia Street between Anderson and Armstrong avenues.
- Wellington Crescent between Academy Road and Guelph Street.
- Wolseley Avenue between Raglan Road and Maryland Street.
The city will re-evaluate at the beginning of May to decide if the designation needs to be extended past May 3.
Shaw said the city is trying to find a balance between allowing people to get out during the pandemic and enforcing the messaging of maintaining a distance of at least two metres from others.
“If we’re monitoring and looking and seeing that this isn’t working, then we absolutely have to take steps to make sure that we protect people,” he said.
“We need to balance this approach out, to make sure that it works,” said Shaw when asked if the program could expand to other streets.
“These routes are familiar, and we want to make sure that the folks are practising physical distancing while they’re [using them].”
Latest local news:
The number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in Manitoba is now 103, after public health officials announced seven new cases on Tuesday.
There has been one COVID-19-related death confirmed in the province so far.
Athletic fields stay closed
While the active transportation routes are opening early, the city said Tuesday it won’t be opening its outdoor athletic facilities — such as soccer fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball diamonds and skate parks — for the time being.
“The city will not be physically closing these locations, but we are asking members of the community to respect the closures of these amenities,” said Shaw.
Last week, the city announced it was closing all of its playgrounds.
“I’m pleading for families to talk to their kids,” Shaw said Tuesday.
“I’m pleading for families to work together with Manitoba Health and the City of Winnipeg and the provincial government so that we can save lives. This is literally about preventing folks from getting COVID-19 and practising the [physical] distancing so that we can get through this as quickly as possible.”
Mayor Brian Bowman told reporters Tuesday that keeping athletic fields closed is the last thing he thought he’d be doing when he was last campaigning for mayor.
“These are not the things aspiring politicians want to announce in a community,” Bowman said.
“They’re not easy decisions to make. We’re trying to find that appropriate balance to protect people’s safety, while also recognizing the fact that people are going outside, they are needing to get some fresh air.”
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