A plan to extend the second phase of Winnipeg's southwest rapid-transit corridor through the Parker Lands has passed another hurdle.
On Wednesday, council's executive policy committee voted unanimously in favour of the dogleg route that runs west through the Parker Lands, then southeast along a Manitoba Hydro corridor. The city hired Dillon Consulting in 2012 to examine potential alignments, and consultants determined this route has more benefits than a busway that runs south along the CN rail line west of Pembina Highway.
A city report said the Parker route will have less impact on traffic and would allow buses to travel faster because there are fewer road crossings.
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 corridor south near Pembina along the CN Letellier line. Orlikow said he believes the Parker Lands will develop regardless of the rapid-transit corridor, but the city will not be able to redevelop Pembina Highway without bus rapid transit.
Area residents expressed concern the route will have a negative environmental impact on the Parker wetlands.
"There's just too many missing holes here," said Orlikow, who urged EPC to further study the alignment options.
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. He said the city would have to relocate the rail line closer to surrounding homes if it installed a busway there, and there would not be room for active-transportation corridors.
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.
The first phase of the southwest rapid transit corridor opened last April and runs between Queen Elizabeth Way near The Forks to Jubilee Avenue near Pembina.
City council will vote on the proposed alignment for the second phase later this month.
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 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.
-- State of the city: Mayor Sam Katz will deliver his annual State of the City address this Friday at a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce-sponsored luncheon at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. On Wednesday, Katz would not say if he plans to make any announcements during this year's speech.