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EPC passes active-transportation strategy, despite opposition

Councillors use radio ads to decry city's active transportation plan

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/7/2015 (718 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

City hall’s rebel five are hitting the airwaves in their battle against the city’s 20-year cycling and pedestrian strategy.

A group of councillors, comprised of Russ Wyatt, Jeff Browaty, Shawn Dobson, Ross Eadie and Jason Schreyer, have banded together to delay council’s adoption of the strategy.

Five councillors are rallying against the city's cycling strategy and took out a radio ad today that will run until council votes on the strategy next Wednesday. Four of those councillors: Jason Schreyer, Shawn Dobson, and Ross Eadie stand behind Jeff Browaty (centre).

BORIS MINKEVICH/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Five councillors are rallying against the city's cycling strategy and took out a radio ad today that will run until council votes on the strategy next Wednesday. Four of those councillors: Jason Schreyer, Shawn Dobson, and Ross Eadie stand behind Jeff Browaty (centre).

Their overriding theme is that the $334 million in costs outlined in the strategy is too much when Winnipeg’s roads are crumbling.

For the next week, radio ads sponsored by the five councillors will run decrying the strategy, noting the money could be better spent on roads and sidewalks, not on cycling paths.

"It’s too much. Let’s get back to common sense!" states one ad.

A second ad, featuring an elderly woman, takes note of a recommendation in the 364-page strategy to have Winnipeggers shovel their sidewalks in winter.

"As taxpayers, we know we are a winter city and snow removal has long been a core a municipal service, especially for seniors and the disabled," she says in the short ad.

The ads cost each respective councillor $700, which was taken out of their ward allowance. The ads will run until council votes for the strategy Wednesday.

Bowman called the rebel five’s actions disappointing, but he remained steadfast in his support of the document.

After Wednesday’s executive policy committee meeting, he said misinformation and rhetoric, comparable to the mudslinging he saw on the campaign trail last summer, is misconstruing what the document will mean.

He repeatedly noted "it is a living, breathing document" that has no dollar figures or actual policy attached to it; instead it should be considered a guideline similar to the city’s master transportation plan.

"No shovel hits the ground until council approves the annual action plan (each year)," Bowman said, also noting council has no plans to make Winnipeggers shovel their sidewalks.

He implored Winnipeggers to ask the rebellious councillors whether they think the ads are a good use of tax dollars.

"I question whether or not the constituents of those respective wards will think this is a good use of their tax dollars, (when it’s) being used to provide misinformation to the public."

The strategy was endorsed by EPC after a lineup of delegates came out in support; of the 10 delegates present, not one person spoke against the strategy.

However, not everyone at the meeting was on board.

Browaty, the only member of Bowman’s executive policy committee who has joined the opposition, was the sole vote against the strategy. The North Kildonan councillor pointed to several changes he wants to see before he will support the document. He also wants to see the snow-clearing recommendation removed.

He pointed to needed corrections to several active transportation pathways that are noted in the map as being "proposed" that have existed for years. He would like to see the strategy mention several new sidewalks that are needed in his ward such one on Bonner Avenue, Gateway Road and Henderson Highway.

Browaty said the ads are meant to communicate with residents, something he said was not properly done during the planning of the strategy.

"Most people don’t realize that the street they live on, they are considering speed-reducing measures like bump-outs, roundabouts," he said.

"We need to make sure all Winnipeggers are aware of what is being considered in this plan and to do it right."

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 11:36 AM CDT: Updates with what councillors paid for ads

3:51 PM: Updates throughout.

8:22 PM: Full write-thru

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