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Fielding says rapid-transit money should be diverted to road repair

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Coun. Scott Fielding

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Scott Fielding revived his campaign against bus rapid transit this morning, calling on the public to demand money be spent on roads instead.

Fielding, the St. James-Brooklands councillor who no longer lives in the ward, said the $600 million set aside for the second phase of the bus rapid transit corridor would be better spent on road repairs, new roads and expressways.

"As a city we need to prioritize how we’re spending money," Fielding said at a news conference held alongside the railway tracks that cross Waverley Street. "There isn’t money to do everything."

Fielding launched an online petition at his website, scottfielding.ca, and said he’s asking the public to tell "the politicians, insiders at city hall that we need to address infrastructure, make that our number one priority."

Fielding said he doesn’t oppose rapid transit, just that he believes Winnipeg should have other priorities.

Fielding has never supported funding rapid transit and voted against both the first and second phases of the corridor.

Fielding said the $600 million for the second phase of the rapid transit corridor, which also includes replacing the Jubilee underpass and extensive drainage work, could actually climb higher with unexpected costs associated relocation of rail lines along the corridor.

Mayor Sam Katz told council Wednesday that it’s unknown whether rail lines need to be relocated to accommodate the expansion of the rapid transit corridor. However, Katz said Winnipeg’s share of the project would remain at $225 million, with Ottawa and the province picking up the outstanding costs.

Fielding released a list of infrastructure projects which he said could all be done for the $600 million earmarked for the expansion of the rapid transit corridor, including:

  • Waverley Underpass, $160 million;
  • Kenaston Boulevard widening, Ness-Taylor, $129 million;
  • Chief Peguis Trail extension, Main-McPhillips, $110 million;
  • Chief Peguis Trail extension, McPhillips-Route 90, $130 million;
  • Edward Schreyer Parkway, Plessis-Chief Peguis, $60 million;
  • William R. Clement Parkway, Grant-Wilkes, $60 million.

Fielding described bus rapid transit as a "mega-project" the city cannot afford while its existing roads are crumbling.

"We need to prioritize to fix existing and (build) needed infrastructure before we look at other mega-projects."

Fielding, who was the city’s finance chairman for six years, has said he won’t run for re-election in St. James, as he no longer lives there but suggested he could be running for mayor in October or take a stab as PC candidate in the next provincial election.

Recent public opinion polling shows Fielding has little support if he did run for mayor.

A Free Press poll in December found Fielding drew 6 per cent support for mayor, the same result as another media poll in February.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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