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New petition supports second phase of rapid transit corridor

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Winnipeggers use the new rapid transit route that opened up Sunday April 8, 2012.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Winnipeggers use the new rapid transit route that opened up Sunday April 8, 2012. Photo Store

Winnipeg supporters of rapid transit have started their own online petition in favour of the completion of the second phase of the dedicated bus corridor.

Harry Wolbert, of Winnipeg Transit Riders Association, said he started the petition to counter the lobby effort by St. James councillor Scott Fielding, who wants to stop the bus corridor project and spend the money on new road construction.

"I don’t know where Coun. Fielding’s ground swell of support against rapid transit is because I don’t see it," said Wolbert, who came to the executive policy committee today to speak in favour of the transit project.

"I live in the city’s largest ward (St. Vital) and no one I talk to is talking about cancelling the (bus corridor project)," Wolbert said. "Back lanes, snow clearing, frozen water pipes... but not shelving rapid transit."

Wolbert said he posted his petition Tuesday and it’s already received almost 1,000 signatures, adding he believes most Winnipeggers want to see the project completed.

In contrast, Fielding’s petition, which began almost two weeks ago, has more than 2,300 signatures.

"Support for our petition is growing faster than Fielding’s," Wolbert said.

Fielding wants to stop the $600-million project, and says the money should be spent on new road projects or road maintenance.

Wolbert said he suspects Fielding is using the issue as a way to heighten his own profile in a likely bid to run for mayor in October.

Wolbert said he’s also concerned that suggestions by Coun. Russ Wyatt to convert the bus corridor into a light rail system could jeopardize funding from the other levels of government for the project.

"Let’s finish (the bus corridor) and then worry about light transit later," Wolbert said, adding Ottawa and the province might reconsider their financial support if they believe city hall is having second thoughts on the project.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 2:57 PM CDT: Writethru.

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