The problem of weather-protection for pedestrians is one which has been discussed for many years. The need for some kind of shelter for pedestrians moving about the Downtown in the winter is obvious, and it is not surprising that there has been much discussion of the matter. Various proposals have been made from time to time including underground systems and skyways, none of which, so far, has ever come close to implementation.
The problem of creating a weather-protected pedestrian circulation system are formidable. Apart from any consideration of cost, the general principles which should govern the development of such a system are subject to widely varying views. Probably a surface system would be the cheapest to create, but such a system must be discontinuous where it intersects with a street—you cannot continue an enclosed corridor across a street at grade level. An underground system has the decided disadvantage of becoming merely a system of subterranean tunnels unless activities of various kinds can be attracted to locate along most of its entire length. In Winnipeg's circumstances it seems unlikely that such activities (in the main these would have to be retail stores, boutiques, certain types of offices and similar kinds of commercial activities) would be available in sufficient number to line such a system for its entire length. And the question always arises as to the attractiveness of such an arrangement in the summertime. It is possible that people would prefer not to use such an underground corridor in the summer, and there could be a consequent falling-off in the volumes of business, thus making the proposition unattractive to commercial investors.
There are of course certain circumstances where an underground passage would be the most appropriate. The passage between the Civic Parking Garage and the Centennial Concert Hall is an example. Another example might be the proposed underground concourse beneath the intersection of Portage and Main. Such a concourse is contemplated primarily as a traffic device, to separate pedestrian from vehicular traffic using the intersection. At the present time the flow of pedestrians across the intersection seriously impedes the flow of vehicles, and this situation will become worse when Lombard Place is fully developed. There is little doubt that the most effective solution to this problem would be to provide for the pedestrian movement across the intersection to take place underground. It is also possible that in some limited and special circumstance, it will be most appropriate for pedestrian movement to take place in a weather-protected passage located at grade.
On [XMLmind] however the moot feasible system would seem to be one which is elevated at about fifteen or sixteen feet above the ground, which bridges across the streets with enclosed bridges, and which uses special corridors created within existing buildings, or new buildings as the are constructed, as the elements of the system. Such a scheme overcomes the problem of crossing streets, and of lining the corridor with activity, since much of the corridor would in fact pass through buildings where commercial activity would be the normal condition. The question of summer use would not arise since the passages, particularly the bridges across the streets, could be opened in fine weather, and thus would be attractive to pedestrians in all seasons.