Smiles are being painted on the faces of pedestrians following a scavenger-hunt-like trail of playful bridges.

Stéphane Dorge is the main organizer for an art project that is bringing smiles to Winnipeg families using pedestrian bridges.

Begining in 2018, #CoolStreetsWPG has been encouraging residents to think about transportation infrastructure in a colourful way.

"Every year one of the main things that people talk about is 'fix our streets," Dorge says. "If we were to allocate even just a small percentage to building a dozen new pedestrian bridges over the Red, Assiniboine, and Seine river it would really change how we get around the city."

Partnering with CCFM, Dorge has been arranging for artists to paint bridges along the Seine River's pedestrian bridges, with the City of Winnipeg's permission.

"This year we went for something bold and playful," he says. "Every proposal that has come back from the artists has been playful and fun."

For Dorge, seeing peope become "empowered" by and celebrate the combination of art and infrastructure is powerful to witness.

Five different locations along the river are currently painted. He says it is "almost like performance art," as people walk by the artists when they paint the bridges.

"We are constantly talking to people," Dorge says. "The other day we were taking drone photos... families came by, walking and biking, (and) they were telling us that they are exploring multiple locations because they saw one post online of one of the bridges."

2019 bridge#CoolStreetsWPG has been painting bridges since 2018. They recently replaced the former painting near Niakwa Road with one of watermellon.

For the organizer, seeing the smiles on the faces of families is one of the best parts of the job.

"Most people smile before they even see us. They are happy to see that we are adding colour to what would just be mundane, utilitarian pedestrian bridges."

Dorge hopes the art encourages Winnipeggers to think about where they walk, and the infrastructure that helps them get there.

"I meant to do multiple locations. For me is the goal to try to promote physical activity try to get people to actively explore, not just one mural but multiple locations."

watermellon bridge

In the next year or two when it is safe to do so, #CoolStreetsWPG is hoping to host a community project, inviting residents to paint one bridge together.

"I was hoping to do a big group event on the Assiniboine Park bridge or the BDI bridge, where we could have groups of people doing different sections as a one-day celebration."

Dorge anticipates a couple of hundred people will participate in the community event.