Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bus, light-rail debate rages

Upstart mayoral contender calls council 'lame duck'

  • Print

Mayoral candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette says city council has lost the moral authority to approve the $590-million rapid-transit megaproject.

Ouellette said given the mismanagement and over-expenditures with the fire hall replacement program and the new police headquarters, the public no longer trusts politicians and senior administrators at city hall.

Public urged to weigh in

WHEN: Tuesday, June 3, 9 a.m.
WHERE: North committee room, council building, City Hall.

The public is invited to a meeting at city hall next week to ask questions and comment on the $590-million mega project known as the Major Capital Integration Project, involving the completion of the southwest rapid transitway and the reconstruction and widening of the Jubilee Underpass at Pembina Highway.

Construction of the transitway is proposed as a public-private partnership, with a contractor ultimately chosen to design, build and maintain the transit way, while the city makes $20-million annual maintenance payments for 30 years.

The city is asking the public to “comment on the viability, risks, costs and benefits of the proposed public-private partnership.”

A summary of the business case and a value for money (VFM) assessment on the project is available online.



"City council is a lame duck council and they have failed as a city council and they should not be continuing with these major projects right now," Ouellette said. "I don't think they have the moral authority or the mandate to proceed."

Ouellette was commenting on the debate at city hall about whether Winnipeg should complete the dedicated bus corridor to the University of Manitoba or begin work on a light-rail system linking downtown to Transcona and the U of M.

While an overwhelming majority of council rejected switching to LRT this week, council must still vote at its June meeting to approve the bus project. They will vote on whether to shelve the BRT project until the outcome of a non-binding referendum.

Next week, the city will hold a hearing on the business plan for the completion of the bus transitway.

Ouellette, a 37-year-old U of M administrator with 10 years' military experience and a PhD, but no political experience, entered the mayoral race last week promising to restore accountability to civic politics.

Ouellette said he wouldn't support a referendum, adding politicians should be confident enough to proceed based on a project's planning.

However, Ouellette said he doesn't believe city hall has conducted the research and planning necessary to justify the BRT project, adding he believes the public has lost confidence in city hall.

"With all the questions surrounding the ethical standards related to many of the dealings that go on at city hall, (the BRT report) is very suspect," Ouellette said. "That lack of accountability, the lack of transparency at the city is a huge hindrance to people's ability to believe in a project like this."

One of the proponents of the LRT option is Coun. Paula Havixbeck, who is also running for mayor. Havixbeck said LRT is the better option. She questions whether the BRT plan can be converted to LRT as its proponents insist, adding the administration refuses to put that in a report.

Two other mayoral candidates, Gord Steeves and Brian Bowman, said they support the completion of the BRT corridor but they disagree on the need for a referendum.

Steeves said he opposes any referendum.

"You're elected to make decisions," said the former St. Vital councillor. "Make a decision, yay or nay."

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.

City hall suffers from an absence of leadership on transit development, Bowman said.

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

Ouellette said he favours LRT over BRT, adding BRT is at best a short-gap solution — cheaper and more flexible — but said urban planning experts conclude LRT is the best, long-term rapid transit solution.

With files from Bartley Kives

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 29, 2014 B2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets this week - Tim and Gary Game 2 review in Anaheim

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings jostle for position to take a drink from a puddle in Brookside Cemetery Thursday morning- Day 23– June 14, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google