Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Parents protest bus loop

U of W considers reworking plan for Furby and Langside

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The University of Winnipeg is taking a second look at its plans to move the campus transit-bus loop to Furby and Langside streets after an outcry from daycare parents.

Parents have objected to 176 transit buses from eight routes suddenly looping on Furby Place, next to the campus daycare and student residence, behind the science complex and on streets with residential housing.

"U of W thinks we will just accept being railroaded into this, but we won't. Some parents yesterday (Wednesday) expressed that if they do go ahead with this route, they will protest and even consider sit-ins to force the buses to reroute," said parent Dianna Rasing.

Jeremy Read, the U of W's senior executive officer and senior adviser to the president, said Thursday the plan has been to move the transit loop from Young and Spence streets, where construction of the new $40-million athletic complex is underway.

But the university is ready to think again.

"We want to make sure we service our students. In terms of on-campus (bus loops), those are the two options," Read said. "We're willing and open -- we're exploring options that would take the transit off Furby."

The U of W is trying to figure out if the bus loop could still share Spence and Young with the new wellness centre and indoor soccer complex that will be linked to the Duckworth Centre.

The U of W has acknowledged it didn't consult the community before deciding to ask the city to move the transit loop from the main part of its campus.

But Read said the U of W Students' Association runs the daycare, and there was obviously a breakdown in communications -- the students' association knew about the university's plans but word didn't get to the parents, Read said.

He acknowledged the students' association now opposes the Furby/Langside transit plan, and so does the Spence Neighbourhood Association.

Students' association president Lauren Bosc said Thursday students' prime concern is the health and safety of children at the daycare centre.

The transit loop would turn Furby and Langside into parking lots for idling buses, parent Michelle Klimczak said. There are already 275 buses stopping daily on Portage Avenue that serve the area well, daycare parents said, who added there would only be four hours out of every 24 when buses are not stopping outside the McFeetors Hall residence if the loop goes ahead.

Read said the Spence neighbourhood has some of the city's highest transit use and lowest car ownership. Transit buses slow down other traffic, reducing safety problems on residential streets.

Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) said he's fully behind the plan to move the loop, and anyone who doesn't like it will soon get over it.

"Once it's in place, the emotional opposition would disappear. I think you'll find the parents would lose interest in their opposition, once it's implemented."

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 19, 2012 A11

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