'Ugly, scary, dark' Main Street underpass starts turning corner with new lighting
On a chilly Monday morning, Point Douglas community activist Sel Burrows sits at a plastic patio table with other community members just steps away from the entrance to the CPR underpass at Higgins Avenue and Main Street.
The underpass, which links the North End to downtown is actually a barrier for people in the community, and has been for too long, said Burrows.
"[It] has been very much less than wonderful. It's been a very ugly, scary, dark passageway."
Bianca Ramos, the safety co-ordinator at the North Point Douglas Women's Centre and a volunteer with Mama Bear Clan agrees with Burrows that the underpass has choked off area residents from the rest of Winnipeg.
"A lot of people don't want to travel under the pass, so they can't access some of the resources on that side and vice versa, so it becomes a physical barrier and it's almost like a division between the two communities," said Ramos.
Burrows and Ramos said they have heard of women being approached in the dark corridor and said many people feel uncomfortable walking there.
Ramos runs youth programs at the women's centre and often has to take young people through there.
"I don't enjoy having to take them through there because I don't feel like it's safe, and I'm very alert when I'm walking with my youth. It's scary to walk with the youth under there and they shouldn't have to do that," said Ramos.
Burrows and others from the community reached out to the city last week to see if there was anything that could be done to improve conditions. On Friday Manitoba Hydro replaced all the lights with new LED bulbs and clear covers that allow for more illumination in the walkway.
Burrows said he was very pleased with the quick turnaround from Manitoba Hydro and that the utility might be willing to add additional fixtures if people still don't feel safe.
Work is underway on other improvements to the underpass. Burrows said the group hope to have more announcements in the coming weeks.