Winnipeg city council had a busy day Wednesday, approving a new transit pass for university students, two new subdivisions in south Charleswood and a new contract with its firefighters.
Approval of the transit pass program came as no surprise as it was Mayor Sam Katz who co-authored the proposal, along with Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, to implement the bus pass program.
The proposed program would see all undergraduate students at the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg issued a two-semester (eight-month) transit pass in exchange for paying an additional $260 in student fees.
It’s estimated the program would require an annual subsidy of about $1 million, which would be covered in part by the provincial government.
University student monthly transit passes now cost $67.75, a total of $542 for eight months.
The program goes into effect in the fall of 2016, but only if separate student referendums at both campuses approve the plan.
Only councillors Scott Fielding and Jeff Browaty voted against the program.
The new transit pass program is similar to a proposal that was not included in the 2014 budget debate in December. Back then, however, the student fee was much lower.
The plan must go back to council for review with a detailed financial report if the student referendums pass.
Also at council today:
The end of the $10,000 Exchange condominium incentive program
The controversial program, meant to lure new residents into the Exchange, never gave out a dime after it was approved by council in July. Public backlash was immediate and harsh, and the program was never enacted.
Now, the administration plans to use a $2.4 million pool of funds for streetscaping and lighting improvements, in hopes that will attract more residents to the area.
Approvals for two new subdivisions in south Charleswood
Both developments are the first in the new Ridgewood South neighbourhood.
One plan involves the construction of 695 single-family homes and 108 multi-family units. The other subdivision will see 31 single-family homes, the first phase of a total of 79 homes.
Firefighters get three-year contract
The negotiated deal will give firefighters annual wage increases of 3 per cent.
Firefighters have already ratified the deal.
The city’s previous contract with the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg expired Dec. 26, 2013. Bargaining proposals were exchanged in October and negotiations began in early December.
The new contract expires Dec. 24, 2016.
The contract also includes upgrades in benefits for the firefighters.
The agreement also allows the city to employ temporary firefighters during the course of the contract.
An administrative report states that there are sufficient funds in the city’s 2014 operating budget to cover the wage increases for this year but notes that there isn't enough money in the budget estimates for 2015 and 2016 to meet the negotiated wage increases.
The report notes that civic paramedics received an arbitrated settlement that provided a wage increase of 3.75 per cent in 2013.
Firefighters in Regina recently negotiated a three-year agreement that provides them with increase of 3.1 per cent in 2013, 3.1 per cent in 2014 and 3 per cent in 2015.