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http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/a-highway-paved-with-money-330369171.html

The City of Winnipeg held two successful Public Participation workshops this month, on June 3 and June 11, 2015 to talk about the Chief Peguis Trail Extension West project.

The current Chief Peguis Trail ends at Main Street, but once extended will run all the way to Brookside Boulevard, running straight through Old Kildonan, eventually connecting to CentrePort Canada Way.

 

The City of Winnipeg is conducting a planning study to gain insight into the use and expectations of the Chief Peguis Trail Extension west. These workshops were step two and three in the five-step timeline before the final report is issued and recommendations are officially made for this project. The next steps will include meeting with targeted stakeholder groups and holding a public open house to look at the recommended plans for the entire route.

The workshops had a great turnout. The first workshop was held at Maples Collegiate in the Commons, and the second at Red River Community Centre, where nearly all the chairs were filled.

The workshop’s purpose was to get residents’ feedback on various presented options for this major roadway. It was also an outlet to voice concerns, and determine what is important to the public for evaluating the options for planning the roadway.

In November 2014, we held the public information and kickoff event, a similar workshop-style event where residents were able to give input for the use of this roadway, and over 300 people participated.

The kickoff event’s feedback raised questions about issues and impacts residents were worried about, and at the June workshops, these issues were able to be addressed.

Some other opportunities and considerations for the area included in the study include the following:

• Alignment of the roadway corridor;
• Intersection design;
• Sound reduction;
• Pedestrian and cycling routes;
• Greenspace features;
• Existing natural habitats.

We heard that residents wanted to see pathways built along Chief Peguis Trail and connecting pathways to neighbourhoods, and we were able to put that into our recommended plans.

Residents were worried about sound impact, so we will recommend that sound and visual buffering are a part of the final design where they are required.  We also heard the importance of traffic flow and presented many options for grade separations along the route including Main Street and Chief Peguis Trail.

I would like to personally thank everyone who came out to give feedback and participate in the discussion surrounding this essential addition to Winnipeg. Both workshops were productive and helpful for the planning committee to narrow down the plentiful options available for both design and functionality of the trail extension.

For those citizens who were unable to attend either the kick-off event or the workshops, the information presented is available on the project website at www.winnipeg.ca/chiefpeguistrail

In the fall, there will be an open house to further examine what the Chief Peguis Trail Extension West could look like and hear feedback on the plans before the final report is issued.

Plan to extend Manitoba’s CentrePort highway may imperil rare ‘rainforest of the prairies’

Shane Gibson/MetroA massive highway project connecting the second phase of CentrePort Canada Way to the Trans-Canada Highway near St. François Xavier may put a rare tall-grass prairie preserve at St. Charles Rifle Range in harms way.

A massive highway project that’s touted as critical to growing Manitoba’s economy may also put one of the province’s few remaining tall-grass prairie preserves in peril.

The province is planning to extend CentrePort Canada Way — the four-lane expressway linking Inkster Boulevard to the west Perimeter Highway — to the Trans-Canada Highway near St. François Xavier.

The expressway will be an important trucking route for CentrePort Canada, the 20,000-acre inland port expected to bring huge economic opportunities to Manitoba.

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But the new roadway’s proposed path runs through the St. Charles Rifle Range, land owned by the Department of National Defence (DND) and home to one of the province’s largest remaining plots of tall-grass prairie.

“It’s surprising to me that they’re even consider that… because there’s land on either side that isn’t sensitive ecologically,” said ecologist and president of Prairie Habitats Inc. John Morgan, whose Manitoba-based company specializes in restoring native prairies.

“Tall-grass prairies have a lot of species —  both plants and animals — that are not found anywhere else, and some have potential for foods and medicines. It’s why we call them the rainforests of the prairies.”

The 250-acres of tall-grass prairie is nestled behind a shooting range the DND has trained at since acquiring the land more than a century ago. That ownership has been what’s kept the tall-grass prairie untouched, explained 17 Wing Winnipeg environmental officer Marc Dettman, who worries what will happen to it if the range if the land is sold.

“The problem is that because there’s no species at risk here, there’s no way to protect the tall-grass prairie,” he said. “It is definitely a rare ecosystem, but unfortunately ecosystems themselves don’t have protection under our species at risk legislation.”

In a statement, the province said they are in the beginning stages of design and are working on a route that “will preserve as much of the existing natural prairie habitat as possible.”