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Campaign promises picking up

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THE post-summer campaign was thoroughly launched Tuesday with announcements from nearly every major candidate for mayor.

Brian Bowman

The lawyer pledged to complete all six of Winnipeg's proposed bus rapid-transit corridors by 2030 -- a multibillion-dollar infrastructure promise.

Bowman said he'd complete the Southwest Transitway and build new east, west, north, northeast and southeast corridors in 15 years. The city's Transportation Master Plan calls for the first four to be completed by 2030, but the next two over the following two decades.

"It's time for rapid transit to benefit the entire city, not just a small segment of it," Bowman said outside Osborne Station. "Rapid transit does not just move people more efficiently. It promotes development and stimulates revenue."

Bowman also pledged to ensure transit buses are equipped with Wi-Fi and promised more bus shelters as well as better services for transit nodes.

Bowman would not cost out his promise. According to city documents, the combined cost of completing four of those corridors exceeded $1 billion in 2011 funds.

Bowman said new developments along the corridors would pay for the construction, but refused to say how much money the city would have to borrow upfront. He said development will happen if council gives Ottawa, Broadway, investors and residents the confidence, noting decades of rapid-transit indecision have crippled Winnipeg.

"It's less of a money problem than a leadership problem," he said, claiming it will cost Winnipeg more in the long run if the city does not develop a rapid-transit network, which he described as Duff's Ditch (the floodway) for this generation.

Bowman said he won't be asking Ottawa and the province to fund rapid transit until the city presents a cohesive plan to complete the Southwest Transitway to the University of Manitoba, an eastern corridor to Transcona, a northern corridor up Main Street, a western corridor to Route 90 and northeast and southeast corridors that would run from the Perimeter to Bishop Grandin Boulevard.

He dismissed concerns the construction industry does not have the capacity to build six corridors in 15 years. "That's a great problem for a city to have. If it means we get a lot more people moving to Winnipeg, that's my goal," he said.

Bowman said his pledge is markedly different than that of rival Gord Steeves, who promised not to complete the Southwest Transitway after initially expressing support for the project. He also said front-runner Judy Wasylycia-Leis has said nothing substantive about transit.

Paula Havixbeck

Havixbeck pledged to phase out malathion in favour of a mosquito-killing agent she considers friendlier to the environment.

Havixbeck pledged to stop fogging for mosquitoes with malathion by 2016 and ramp up the use of Pyrocide, a biodegradable pesticide.

Pyrocide includes the neurotoxin pyrethrin, derived from chrysanthemum flowers, as well as piperonyl butoxide, a sassafras derivative that makes pesticides more effective by turning off enzymes that allow mosquitoes to fight off chemical attacks. The city tested Pyrocide in small amounts when Taz Stuart was the city's entomologist.

"Malathion is something the city had worked toward reducing, eliminating," she said at Vimy Ridge Park, declining to say whether she believes the chemical is safe.

Havixbeck said if elected, she'd ensure only areas of the city with high trap counts were fogged, rather than blanketing the city.

She pledged to extend larviciding farther outside city limits, to 12 kilometres from two to four kilometres into neighbouring municipalities. She said she would approach RMs to see whether they would fund such an expansion.

The total cost of these changes to the city's insect-control program would be $6 million over and above existing budgets, Havixbeck said.

She dismissed a pair of polls that suggest she's running fifth in Winnipeg's mayoral race, after Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Gord Steeves, Brian Bowman and Robert-Falcon Ouellette.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

Wasylycia-Leis announced her four broad pledges, at least one of which was announced earlier in the race.

The former NDP MP promised to rebuild the city's infrastructure, avoid cuts to front-line services such as police, fire and garbage collection and create opportunities. Asked for more detail on those, she demurred, saying she would unveil more information as the Oct. 22 election nears.

She also pledged to restore trust at city hall by turning the auditor's office into an accountability watchdog with authority to conduct value-for-money audits, oversight of a new lobbyist registry and a more vigorous code of ethics and conflict guidelines. She first made that promise in June.

-- Bartley Kives, Aldo Santin and Mary Agnes Welch

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 3, 2014 B1

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