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Browaty's motion on rapid-transit referendum to be debated in June

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Rapid Transit bus at the Osborne Station.

JORDAN THOMPSON / CANSTAR COMMUNITY NEWS FILES Enlarge Image

Rapid Transit bus at the Osborne Station.

There will be no debate at city hall today on deciding the future of bus rapid transit through a referendum.

Coun. Jeff Browaty said he will not try to force a vote on the referendum issue, adding he’s prepared to wait for the debate at next month’s council meeting.

Browaty announced last week he could no longer support completing the bus corridor project and would bring a motion to council to halt the work and let voters decide whether it should resume through a non-binding referendum in the Oct. 22 civic election.

Browaty said he’ll follow procedure and allow his motion to be debated at the June meeting.

‎Mayoral candidate Brian Bowman said he supports the idea of a referendum, as he said he likes the idea of consulting residents about spending on big-ticket items.

If a referendum goes ahead, however, Bowman said he would campaign in favour of completing the Southwest Transitway.

Bowman said he supports rapid-transit construction because transit corridors promote infill development and reduces the environmental impact of personal-automobile use.

City hall suffers from ‎an absence of leadership on transit development, he added.

"Watching city council fumble this issue make me feel like I'm in the movie Groudhog Day."

Council appears ready to nix a proposal from councillors Russ Wyatt and Paula Havixbeck to abandon the bus corridor in favour of a light rail system.

Wyatt wanted his plan to be referred to committee for further study -- and the time to build a proper case for the switch.

But a slim majority of council forced him to debate the merits of the switch to LRT today.

Council broke for lunch as Wyatt finished his argument for the switch but it doesn’t seem likely now that he has the votes on council to support it.

City hall has been debating rapid-transit construction since the 1950s. The Southwest Transitway was first proposed in 1976 and its first leg was completed in 2012.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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