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EPC approves sending rapid transit route through Parker Lands

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Council's executive policy committee unanimously voted to extend the second phase of Winnipeg's rapid-transit corridor through the Parker Lands.

This morning, Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights) and several citizens told members of the committee the city did not fully consider the potential benefits of extending the south near Pembina Highway along the CN Letellier line.

A city report recommends the dogleg route run west through the Parker Lands, then southeast along a Manitoba Hydro corridor. The city also examined installing a busway south along the Canadian National rail line west of Pembina -- which is one kilometre shorter -- but determined the Parker route would have less impact on traffic and would allow buses to travel faster because there are fewer road crossings and less expropriations would be needed.

Orlikow said he believes the Parker Lands will develop regardless of the rapid-transit corridor, but that the city will not be able to redevelop Pembina Highway without bus rapid-transit. Area residents expressed concern Winnipeg has not fully considered the negative environmental impact on the Parker wetlands.

Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop said the Parker route provides more opportunities for infill development and fewer expropriations than extending the corridor south near Pembina Highway along the CN Letellier line. He said the city would have to relocate the rail line eight or nine metres closer to surrounding homes if it installed a busway there, and there would not be room for active-transportation.

Public works chairman Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) reiterated his support for the recommended route through the Parker lands, saying Winnipeg is years behind rapid-transit in other cities and needs to get the second-phase finished.

Executive policy voted in favour of extending the second phase of the dogleg route through the Parker Lands.

The alignment still has to be approved by city council.

Mayor Sam Katz said any council decision is subject to having the money in place.

The city plans to spend $10 million on the second phase of the Southwest Transitway in 2014 and another $127.5 million in 2015. Winnipeg is hoping hopes the province will match the city's contribution of $137.5 million, and the city has applied for $75 million in federal funding,

Katz said he believes the city will be successful with its application to the federal government, and discussions are ongoing with the province.

"The sooner we have the money in place and a plan in place we can start," he said.

Related video: Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop explains decision behind Parker Lands route

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