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City cancels consulting contract

THE City of Winnipeg has cancelled a $400,000 consulting contract to plan future bike and pedestrian paths.

In 2012, the city issued a request for proposals for a firm to help gauge the public need for cycling and walking paths, identify future active-transportation funding priorities, align this strategy with the city's Transportation Master Plan and evaluate progress in the future.

The project arose in the wake of a $21-million 2010 active-transportation upgrade that was marred by a lack of city planning, consultation and implementation capacity. The contract was awarded earlier this year.

But it was cancelled in favour of spending the money on building bike and pedestrian paths, public works committee chairman Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) said Tuesday.

"We put a halt to the plan, thinking the money could be better spent on actual active-transportation projects," Vandal said in an interview.

The remaining funds from the project will be added to $1.26 million set aside for bike paths and sidewalks in the 2013 capital budget, he said.

Sunday parking free in parkade

FREE parking on Sunday in downtown Winnipeg has gone underground.

Forks North Portage (FNP) is offering free parking in the Portage Place parkade every Sunday during July and August. No purchase is necessary to qualify for the parking.

According to the FNP release, "visitors to downtown can trust that they are parking in a secure and monitored lot" while taking advantage of what the area has to offer in the summer. Sunday parking is free on designated downtown Winnipeg streets year-round.

Underpass sod-turning called off

A ceremony to mark the start of construction on the Plessis Road underpass has been cancelled due to a dispute between the city and three east Winnipeg MLAs.

The city and province planned to hold a ceremonial sod-turning Monday to mark the start of the $77-million Plessis Road twinning and underpass. The event was cancelled after NDP MLAs Jim Maloway, Bidhu Jha and Daryl Reid distributed a flyer decrying the 17-month closure of Plessis Road during the construction period and demanded the construction of a temporary bypass road.

Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, who helped lobby Ottawa to fund the project, said the city cannot build a temporary road because such a move would delay the project and threaten funding. Wyatt accused Premier Greg Selinger of tacitly approving the actions of Reid, Jha and Maloway.

Selinger's office, however, confirmed the province's support for the project in an email to Mayor Sam Katz's office.

-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2013 B2

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