The matter of the weather-protected pedestrian system also merits some further discussion. There is amongst the people of Winnipeg widespread support of the proposition that there should be some form of protection from the weather particularly the winter weather, which would enable people to move about the city, and particularly the Downtown, in comfort. The plan described in the previous section provides for such a weather-protected system, initially in the Broadway-St. Mary sector of the the Downtown, extending within the period of the plan to Portage Avenue, and across Portage Avenue to the northern sector of the Downtown, and ultimately, it is hoped, to the major nodes of activity in the entire central area of the city.
One of [XMLmind] key elements of the weather-protected pedestrian system as it is proposed in the plan is that it is elevated about 16 feet above grade, and another is that it is lined with retail stores and other types of commercial and recreational activity.
At the present time, the ground floor level is considered to be the most important, if not actually the only level on which retail stores can be located. The is so of course because the ground level is the level on which all pedestrian movement now takes place, (apart from local movements within structures), as well as all vehicular movement. The ground floor is in fact the level of movement and transportation. This raises some very serious problems for the weather-protected system as it is here conceived. How do you shift pedestrian movement from its traditional and firmly-entrenched location on the ground level, and how do you shift retail and other commercial uses up from ground level to second storey level? the reasons for locating the system above ground have been discussed elsewhere in this report it is necessary in order to avoid interruption by the street system which would occur at ground level; and there are very serious objections to locating the entire system underground. It seems fairly clear that if Winnipeg is to have a continuous weather-protected pedestrian system, it must be located mainly above-grade. but there is little to be said for a circulation system through which people do not circulate; unless people will move up to the upper level, and use the system, there is no point in the proposal.
There seems little doubt that if the system is well designed, and provides the type of access which the public wants, it will be heavily used; the rigors of the winter weather alone will virtually ensure its use. But a limited seasonal use is not what is intended for the system, and is certainly not sufficient to persuade retail and other uses to locate above ground level.
In order to persuade commercial users to locate at the pedestrian corridor, it is necessary to ensure heavy year-round pedestrian use of the system; and in order to persuade the pedestrian to use the system all year round, it is necessary to make it attractive all year round.
It is here that the public recreation facilities and amenities have a major role to play. If attractions such as the aquarium, the conservatory, the swimming pool, and the landscaped plazas, can be established early enough, they will provide the magnet which will draw the pedestrian up to the proposed new pedestrian level. Once at this level, pedestrians will prefer to remain there, provided they can move to their destinations conveniently. The public recreation facilities can be used to establish the habit of the new level. As the development progresses, access will be extended farther and farther throughout the Downtown, and the convenience of the system will become established. Under these circumstance it can be expected that retail and other commercial enterprises will follow the mass of pedestrians up to the new level, and the system will function in the way it is expected. This objective cannot of course be realized immediately. It will be achieved gradually, with the evolution of the plan and the development of the Downtown. However, it is expected that with the early development of the public amenities, the second storey habit can be established, and the total concept of the weather-protected pedestrian system can be realized within the plan period.