Construction to Saskatchewan Avenue recommenced on April 30, and significant gains have been made in revitalizing Saskatchewan Ave West.

Phase 1 of the project began in the fall of September 2021 and finished in September 2022. Phase 2 has been underway since and is set for completion this fall, weather permitting.

Portage la Prairie Mayor Sharilyn Knox says she is pleased to see how far the project has come.

"Just like throughout the rest of Manitoba, we're in the construction season," continues the mayor. "When people say they have to take a detour and how frustrating that is, I find sometimes you get stuck in the routes you take to go places. I take it as a positive opportunity to see new parts of Portage that I haven't seen for a while."

Knox notes it's great to see the construction in its final stages. 

"When you drive through the construction there now, you see more trees, you see planting, and you see different perennial plants going in. It just shows the end of the progress we've been waiting for."

file photoPortage la Prairie Mayor Sharilyn Knox.

Business owners have provided excellent feedback, according to Knox. She says they are excited for what is to come.

"There's been a lot of investment on Saskatchewan Avenue by businesses into their storefront. Yes, we have the storefront improvement grant that people definitely tap into, but so many businesses have made those improvements themselves. It shows what happens when a city or municipality invests in their infrastructure, that businesses follow along."

Knox adds that she has heard outsiders comment on the changes, which means a lot. However, what is even more impactful to her is when she hears positive feedback from long-time Portage residents.

"When those people are commenting, it must mean it's pretty significant."

She highlights a meeting last week with folks from all over the province, where they kept mentioning the changes they've seen in the community.

"A couple from Saskatchewan was at the session, and one of them said that she couldn't get over our community and she was going to talk to her husband about moving here. So, we're happy with all the changes," smiled the mayor.

Knox credits former iterations of the City Council for laying the groundwork to make this all possible.

Portage MLA Jeff Bereza tells PortageOnline that he would give the City Council a gold star for all the work put into this project and for making the city more modern.

"It's amazing. The transformation that's gone on with Saskatchewan Avenue, from the bike lanes to the way the traffic flows," Bereza continues his praise for past and present City Council's approach to this project. "I have to go back to when (former) Mayor Ferris was on Council, and they introduced the roundabout to help the traffic flow on Crescent Road. Hats off to the City Council and all the great work they're doing."

The Portage MLA echoes a sentiment that many other community figures have said during the construction.

"It's a short-term pain for long-term gain," stated Bereza. "The more people we have on the avenue when all these changes are made with the bike lanes and such, the more I'm hoping we see a reduction in crime. Because there's more people out there to see more things that are going on."

file photoPortage MLA Jeff Bereza.

Bereza, a former city councillor himself, notes that he loves to see Portage continue to become a top-tier Manitoba City.

"Portage la Prairie is really bumping up. I can remember when I was on the City Council, and again, the work that's been done now is tenfold what we've seen in the past. It has just made the city more business-friendly and people-friendly."

The city offered this update on construction as of May 31 on their website:

file photo

The total cost of the project was $25 million, with the Manitoba government investing $8.3 million, the Government of Canada providing $12.5 million, and the City of Portage la Prairie chipping in $4.2 million.