It’s getting tougher to do business in the Exchange District in Winnipeg, but one local business leader is hoping to change that.
The historic and eclectic neighbourhood adjacent to the downtown has been the recipient of new bike lanes over the last couple of years. It seemed like the right thing to do for a city trying to promote active transit, but because the lanes are between the curbs and vehicle lanes, motorists have to park in what looks to be the middle of the road.
As of January 20, the temperature in Winnipeg was -12 degrees C, so the bike lanes may not have been widely used.
On top of that, the city has doubled local parking rates since the bike lanes opened.
“The challenge isn’t that the [parking] rate is too high,” said David Pensato, executive director of the Exchange District Business Improvement Zone. “They’re too high in the context that parking is free in most commercial districts in the city. We’ve created this expectation of free on-street parking.”
Businesses that feel they’ve been affected by the bike lanes aren’t against active transportation but they’d like to see a more comprehensive approach to circulation in the neighbourhood, he said.
The Exchange is home to about 3,000 people today, up from fewer than 300 in 2007.