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Media Releases

October 26, 2012

Connection between Winnipeg's Downtown and Osborne Village complete

Osborne Bridge refurbishment features numerous enhancements

Released: 11:07 a.m.

WINNIPEG, MB - Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are now fully able to cross the Assiniboine River between Osborne Village and the city's downtown via a newly refurbished Osborne Street Bridge, which was built in 1882 and reconstructed in 1977. This refurbishment project has extended the service life of the structure by 75 years.

Today, Premier of Manitoba Greg Selinger, City of Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, Winnipeg Arts Council Executive Director Carol Phillips and Nick Kowalchuk of the Osborne Bridge Neighbourhood Advisory Committee joined together to officially reopen the bridge.

"The Osborne Bridge is one of Manitoba's busiest routes for vehicle, cyclist and pedestrian traffic. Whether you're in a car, on a bike or walking, the new, wider Osborne Bridge will get you where you're going more safely and efficiently," said Premier Selinger. "Investing in roads and bridges like this is a priority for Manitobans and it's part of our commitment to keep improving infrastructure across the province."

"This extremely well executed project has brought new life back to this critical structure with features that range from the thought-provoking public art to safety provisions for cyclists and pedestrians," said Mayor Katz. "And all of this was accomplished without having to close the bridge completely."

The $16.8-million project, which began in the spring of 2011, took less than two years to complete and was finished both on time and on budget.

Costs of $7.2 million were covered by the Province of Manitoba.

This project also involved the input of a Neighbourhood Advisory Committee (NAC) made up of stakeholders that included businesses and the cycling community. This committee developed project goals and worked closely with municipal representatives and the consulting team to ensure the needs of the community were considered.

Recommendations through this collaborative process led to many additional enhancements, including:

  • Separate accommodation for cyclists leading from the bridge to the Assiniboine Avenue-Granite Way half signal crossing, including Winnipeg's first dedicated bike signal.
  • Well-aligned pedestrian pathways to the Legislative Building grounds and river walks.
  • Permanent bike entry point to the Active Transportation system on the upper bank at Mostyn Park.
  • Widened transition for cyclists from the bridge to the roadway at the southwest corner.

"I thoroughly enjoyed serving on the NAC and being involved in the rehabilitation process," said Shauna Charmichael who represents the Osborne Village Community Garden Group. "I was able to give valuable feedback from my community easily, and it has been amazing to observe the construction process watching everyone's ideas, hard work and vision come to fruition."

The City of Winnipeg also partnered with the Winnipeg Arts Council to integrate public art into the design of the bridge structure.

Titled From Here Until Now, artists Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski created a design that marks and celebrates two distinct neighbourhoods on each side of the Assiniboine River. The art project consists of three main components:

  • Separate accommodation for cyclists leading from the bridge to the Assiniboine Avenue-Granite Way half signal crossing, including Winnipeg's first dedicated bike signal.
  • The sidewalk, integrating the neighbourhood's physical map translated into contrasting concrete tones and stainless steel trimming.
  • The bridge handrails, featuring LED lighting and inscribed text reflecting historical, social and cultural neighbourhood moments.
  • Two illuminated gateway zones at both bridge entries, celebrating four important architectural elements of the neighbourhood's history.

"The neighbourhoods surrounding the Osborne Bridge have a rich history and an active present," said Tricia Wasney, Public Art Manager for the Winnipeg Arts Council. "This artwork highlights that vibrancy and community spirit."

Each day, 42,000 vehicles travel over the Osborne Bridge.

Public Service Announcement

Winnipeg Police Service/Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Halloween Safety Tips

Released: 2:14 p.m.

WINNIPEG, MB - The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and the Winnipeg Police Service are encouraging citizens to make Halloween a safe and enjoyable occasion.

Here are some general safety tips for everyone to consider:

  • Try to trick-or-treat when it is still light outside.
  • Wear a bright, reflective costume made of flame-resistant material.
  • Carry a flashlight, and use glow sticks, or reflective tape as part of your costume. Encourage children to stay away from open flames.
  • Ensure children know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire.
  • Why not use make-up instead of a mask? Masks can shift and obscure vision.
  • To prevent falls, ensure costumes fit well and aren't too long and don't have too much loose material.
  • Have a responsible adult go trick-or-treating with you.
  • If someone older cannot go with you, trick-or-treat as a group.
  • Plan your trick-or-treat route ahead of time. Pick well-lit streets.
  • Stay on sidewalks, look left, right and left again to be sure no cars are approaching before crossing the street. Always cross the street at corners and crosswalks; never cross between parked cars or in the middle of the block.
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Never enter the home of a stranger.
  • Discuss with your children the route they will be travelling and what time they are required to return home.
  • Only eat treats that have been examined by your parents.
  • Choking occurs most frequently among children under two years of age, but can happen at any age. Eating while playing, running, jumping, or talking increases the likelihood of choking.
  • ATTENTION DRIVERS! Children will be very excited and their actions could be sudden and unpredictable. Exercise caution and Just Slow Down.

Your home for Halloween:

  • Make sure your home is well lit, your yard clear and safe, and pets are secured so no harm comes to them or the children.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
  • It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candles in a Jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are supervised when candles are lit.
  • Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Children should not use knives or other sharp instruments to carve pumpkins.

A safe and happy Halloween to everyone!

Winnipeg Police Service Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service

Downtown Safety Services transitioned from Downtown Biz to WPS Cadets

Released: 3:49 p.m.

WINNIPEG, MB - A torch is being passed down, as the Downtown BIZ Outreach program officially passed its role on to the Downtown Winnipeg Police Service Cadets today.

"The Outreach has played a key role in creating a safer downtown for everyone, providing a core service to vulnerable individuals and freeing up emergency services so they can focus on more serious issues," says Downtown BIZ Executive Director Stefano Grande. "We are pleased to see the Cadets taking up this role with additional resources, and look forward to seeing these important services continue for our members and the general public."

"The Manitoba government recognizes and supports the valuable work provided by the Outreach program in downtown Winnipeg and it's encouraging to know that it will be maintained by the cadets," said Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux. "Keeping people safe and offering help to those who really need it is an important service that benefits us all."

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Outreach Patrol Program was an innovative solution that dealt with public intoxication in a manner that was both timely and compassionate. Since the program started in 2006, more than 12,000 indigent individuals have been helped off the street. They have been connected with social service providers and supplied with socks, mittens, blankets, water and food.

"Over six years, the Downtown BIZ Outreach program saved millions of dollars in fire paramedic and police resources," said Mayor Sam Katz. "More importantly, Outreach volunteers connected thousands of people with social service resources within the City of Winnipeg, and perhaps even saved some lives, by bringing people out of the cold during the winter months. I am pleased this valuable program continues with support from the Winnipeg Police Service cadets."

Downtown Outreach Patrol Help City's Less Fortunate

Vulnerable individuals in Winnipeg's downtown received help from the Downtown BIZ's 10 highly-trained Outreach Patrol. The Outreach helped intoxicated people move into safer environments in a compassionate manner, and connected people on the street with resources, saving the city's emergency services an estimated $6 million dollars since the program began 6 years ago. Over 3,000 emergency calls were directed to the Outreach each year, freeing up fire, police and paramedic services to deal with higher priority cases. The Outreach Patrol's average response time was 10 minutes or less.

The program was supported by the City of Winnipeg, Province of Manitoba, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Main Street Project.

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Last update: 31.10.2012

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