‘Really unsafe’: Potential collapse of building forces pedestrians into danger

As the evacuation of Birchwood Terrace continues, residents who navigate the strip of Portage ave. in front of the building say the scenario is unsafe. Morgan Modjeski reports

The forced evacuation at Birchwood Terrace continues to spill beyond the building itself, as some who navigate the strip of Portage Avenue in front of the now emptied apartment, say the closure of the sidewalk and crosswalk are putting drivers and pedestrians in danger.

“It’s just really unsafe for everybody all around,” said Lauren Nolin. “It’s a lot of potential danger to pedestrians and for vehicle drivers as well.” 

Nolin is regularly at her parents, who live next to Birchwood Terrace, and says it’s been jarring to drive down Portage and see people on the street, forced into traffic by the fence that has been placed right to the curb.

“Drivers are now slowing down, they’re trying to get around, thinking that you’re turning, but you’re not … It’s super frustrating.” 

Lauren Nolin, who regularly visits her parents located next door to Birchwood Terrace says the situation is a dangerous one for drivers and pedestrians alike. (Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski, CityNews)

As a result, the pedestrian crosswalk at Whytewold Road and Portage Avenue is blocked — no longer offering a safe path across one of Winnipeg’s busiest streets. 

“It’s very difficult and very dangerous,” said Sukhvir Kaur, who has to cross the street at an uncontrolled intersection as a result. 

“Now I cross the road from here because I’m in a hurry in the morning as I’m going to college, so yes this is very difficult for me to cross a road like this.” 

A busy student, Sukhvir Kaur says she’s been forced to cross Portage Avenue at an uncontrolled intersection as a result of the sidewalk and crosswalk closure. (Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski, CityNews)

The City of Winnipeg indicated the sidewalk was blocked off at the request of the building owner’s prime contractor as a precaution and will remain closed “until further notice.” Pedestrians are advised to find the nearest controlled crossing.  

“It’s a real disruption that nobody knew about,” said Bill Werry.

Bill Werry says the sidewalk closure has been a disruption for many in the neighbourhood, which he says is home to many senior citizens. (Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski, CityNews)

Werry and his two dogs have had to change his usual walking route due to the fence, saying even as more people are being put out by the evacuation there’s been no notice or proper consultation.

“I think it’s sort of kowtowing to a big company, and not the regular everyday person who wants to talk on this sidewalk. There’s a lot of people in this area and a lot of them I’ve talked to have been disrupted quite a bit.”

St. James city councillor Shawn Dobson says his office is working to address the issue, asking city administration as to whether or not a temporary crosswalk can be implemented as work on the building continues. 

CityNews reached out to Ladco Company Ltd. for a response to the concerns, but a response was not received.

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