Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Planned bridge to ruin toboggan hill?

The city is preparing to spend $20 million on new active transportation routes. But could one of its ideas steal away one neighbourhood's most active spot?

At the edge of Wolseley, residents are mobilizing to protect a popular toboggan hill they say is threatened by two city proposals for a $1-million bicycle bridge over tree-lined Omand's Creek Park. "(The toboggan hill) is part of our life here," said resident Laura MacDonald as she walked up the hill. "As soon as school's out, it's packed."

Two weeks ago, the city floated two proposals at a small meeting with residents. One would put a 75-metre-long cyclist bridge high over the creek, anchoring on what is now the toboggan hill on the west side and Raglan Road on the east. The other would move the bridge further south, but block a smaller hill used by younger children.

Either option would mean concrete supports could potentially be located in an area where children zoom down the hill, also creating a worrisome target for graffiti and a dent in the rolling natural landscape, residents said.

Although residents may disagree with the proposals, Roe stressed that meetings with city developers have been "very constructive," and praised their openness. Other plans on the table include setting a new bridge one to two metres over the current one, reducing the flood risk but maintaining the hills.

On Saturday afternoon, kids tackling the toboggan hill were passionate about keeping it bridge-free. "It's part of the community," said Quinn Friesen, 11, who was sledding with brother Isaac. "If you put a bridge across it, not as many people are going to come."

Roe's son Cameron, 11, agreed. "I've been sliding on it since I was born," he said. "You make friends here. It's good for us not to be playing video games all day."

A community meeting with residents and city organizers is scheduled at the Portage Avenue Mennonite Church Thursday, March 18. The open house begins at 5:30 p.m. and a meeting will start at 7 p.m. City planners will be on hand to discuss the bridge proposals.

"The social cost of the way the park is currently used is too high," said Raglan Road resident Chris Roe, who said she is organizing "hundreds" of residents to speak out against the proposal. "We can do better. We have something beautiful here."

The bridge crossing Omand's Creek was proposed because a current, low-lying footbridge is underwater about two weeks out of the year. But some local cyclists feel nipping up to nearby Portage Avenue when the flooding happens is not a major detour.

Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 7, 2010 A5

Bottom Line
Cycling infrastructure is good. Discussing community planning is great. Being part of the democratic process is great! Have a voice, be involved, make a difference in your community.


  1. I actually just found out about this as well. I agree that cycling infrastructure is good. But never at the cost of any neighbourhood. There are many other options that would work that would not infringe on the kids play area.

  2. I was out for my daily 3-hour spin (on the wet bike) and I noticed someone has started a poster campaign to get everyone railed up about the issue. I agree that there are probably many ways to address the 'flooding bridge' (not removable ;) issue. But hey what do I know anyway? I am not a Civil Engineer. I do know that I enjoy using the park winter, summer (do we have summer?), fall and spring. I am passing through almost every day of the year, and it is a pain in the rear end when the flooding forces you around the other side of the park. However, it is not a $1-million pain in the rear. I wonder if they could put the bridge a little further over so it exists on the other side of the hill by the baseball fence. Well they are at it (whatever “it” will be) I would like them to shore up the river banks. I guesstimate we have lost 1-2 meters of riverbank over the last 20-years.

  3. more idp is needed but it is so hard of a process to get those things done for it takes a long time and by then..well yup. thanx for posting a great piece, is good to talk about it

  4. p.s. it is fun when it is flooded. i can tell all my european friends bridges still flood here every year and can look a the shock at their faces..it is nice to be reminded of mother nature really has the upper hand