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Council approves student bus pass

A new transit pass for students at the universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba has been approved by city council.

The move Wednesday 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 U of M and U of W issued a two-semester (eight months) 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 less.


Cargo rules need updating: city

Winnipeg city council wants Ottawa to compel railroads to divulge more information about hazardous cargo.

Council approved a motion Wednesday saying Ottawa needs to modernize rail-safety rules following last year's tragedy in Lac-Mégantic.

The move was prompted by St. Boniface coun. Dan Vandal, who said municipalities need to know the nature and volume of the dangerous materials passing through their neighbourhoods.

The motion also calls on Ottawa to include crude oil and other flammable liquids on a list of substances deemed to be high-risk for transportation.

The motion is symbolic, because council cannot compel the federal government or the railroads to release that information.


Firefighters' contract endorsed

City council endorsed a negotiated three-year contract with its firefighters that will give them annual wage increases of three 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 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 there are sufficient funds in the city's 2014 operating budget to cover the wage increases for 2014 but notes budget estimates for 2015 and 2016 are inadequate to meet the negotiated wage increases.


$10-K condo incentive quashed

The end of the $10,000 Exchange condominium incentive program was approved by council Wednesday.

The controversial program, meant to lure new residents into the Exchange, never handed out a dime after it was approved by council in July. The program was never enacted after public backlash was immediate and harsh.

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.


Two subdivisions approved

Approvals for two new subdivisions in south Charleswood were passed by city council Wednesday. 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.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 27, 2014 B8

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