You’re not allowed to walk across Winnipeg’s most iconic intersection. For almost 40 years, Portage and Main has been barricaded to pedestrians. This October, through a plebiscite on the ballot in the city’s municipal election, that could change. But will it?
Of course, changing the core of a city isn’t easy, and the battle over whether or not the intersection of Portage and Main should be opened to pedestrians has highlighted all the ugly divides that every big city grapples with—suburban vs. downtown, pedestrian vs. car, business vs. community. How did Winnipeg’s most important intersection end up this way? How easy will it be to change it if citizens vote yes? What’s at stake beyond a swath of sidewalk. Matt Cundill takes us into the fight for space in the heart of the city.