Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Councillor, mayor want time for public input on transitway

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A city committee may delay a vote on the proposed route for the second leg of Winnipeg's rapid-transit corridor amid concerns Fort Garry residents haven't had enough time to assess the potential impact on their neighbourhood.

Last Friday, the city released an administrative report recommending Winnipeg extend the second phase of the Southwest Transitway west through the Parker Lands, then southeast along a Manitoba Hydro corridor. The transit report said the proposed route will have less impact on traffic and will allow buses to travel faster, as there are fewer road crossings. It is also expected to attract more riders from future housing developments in the Parker Lands and adjacent areas and improve transit connections to Linden Woods and new commercial developments near Kenaston Boulevard and the Sterling Lyon Parkway.

Council's public works committee will review the report at a meeting this morning.

River Heights Coun. John Orlikow said there's no reason to rush a decision on the route, as residents affected by the proposed corridor have had little time to review the 100-plus-page report. Orlikow said he's concerned the proposed route includes an overpass at Beaumont Street, which will send more traffic into a neighbourhood that's already overloaded, and about a call to expropriate about three dozen homes in the Parker neighbourhood.

Orlikow said that's a potentially significant number of expropriations.

"Why are we rushing this through? We don't have the funding in place yet," he said Wednesday.

Coun. Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) expressed concern the city hasn't been in control of the plans for the rapid-transit corridor. A committee with representatives from the city, province, and University of Manitoba helped examine options for the second phase of the busway. "I don't feel like we're properly engaged in this process," Swandel said in council.

Mayor Sam Katz said he agrees there has not been sufficient time to review the rapid-transit report and he will push for more time. He said the city waited a long time to hear from the rapid-transit committee about the route, and the public should have a fair opportunity for input.

Public works chairman Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) said he is not against laying the matter over and would like to know the specific issues of concern. Vandal noted the city's budget includes funding for rapid transit and the plan will move forward.

Winnipeg's 2013 capital budget calls for the city to spend $1.1 million on the transitway design and asks the province to match the funds to help plan and design future rapid-transit corridors, including an east transitway.

The city plans to spend $10 million on the second phase of the Southwest Transitway in 2014 and another $127.5 million in 2015.

"If people want to lay it over for a month, I have no problem with that," Vandal said.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 31, 2013 B2

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