Under the Dome
with Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen
12/9/2013 2:16 PM
Back in the Nov. 12 throne speech Premier Greg Selinger said a record $5.5 billion would be spent over the next five years on core or "strategic" infrastructure.
He also promised to dedicate each dollar raised from the one-point PST increase to infrastructure. The government expects to see about $300 million in new revenue annually from the PST increase.
Here's what the NDP promised Manitobans in the past month on infrastructure spending:
- $215 million for Highway 75. The aim is to keep it open during all but 1997-level floods and will involve diverting the Morris River so it flows into the Red River further north.
- $225 million towards the second phase of rapid transit in south Winnipeg, including adding additional vehicle and bike lanes to the Pembina-Jubilee Underpass.
- $200 million over the next five years to start rebuilding the southwest quadrant of the Perimeter Highway, essentially from Portage Avenue to Pembina Highway and Highway 75. Included is a diamond interchange at McGillivray Boulevard that will do away with traffic-control lights.
- $67 million to upgrade Highway 10 from Riding Mountain National Park to the U.S. border, including new passing lanes, curve realignments and asphalt resurfacing.
- $45 million for Highway 9 from Winnipeg to Winnipeg Beach for concrete reconstruction, asphalt resurfacing and better road drainage.
- $225 million for Highway 6 from Winnipeg to Thompson, including bridge replacements, intersection improvements, curve realignments and design work for new passing lanes. Included in that amount are plans to surface Provincial Roads 373 and 374, which will be access points to the east side road network currently under construction.
The total for these six projects is $997 million over five years.
The NDP's plan is to cost these out further in the spring budget. The goal is also to secure matching federal funding under the new $53-billion Building Canada Plan, which is to be rolled by the Harper government in the coming months.
Under the previous Building Canada Fund, Manitoba saw about $500 million. The money was used for projects including finishing the Red River Floodway expansion and the Waverley West arterial road. The most recent project is the expansion of the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.
So, in a nutshell, over the past month the province has promised that almost $1 billion will be spent over the next few years on six road projects.
The actual accounting, which level of government pays what and by when, remains kind of fuzzy.
Not that it matters much anyway... there's only one source.
At least the roads will be smoother.
12/3/2013 1:20 PM
Former Morris Progressive Conservative MLA Mavis Taillieu says she never dreamt back in February when she resigned her seat that it would still be vacant nearly 10 months later.
It's been 295 days since she announced via a press release that she was leaving after nearly 10 years in elected office.
The wait to replace her ranks as the longest for any byelection in Manitoba history.
"I don't think it's right to wait as long as they have (to call a vote)," Taillieu said this week.
She said she believed when she resigned on Feb. 12 she was giving the Selinger government time to call a byelection before the spring session. In recent years, byelections have been held as quickly as 32 days following the resignation of an MLA.
Taillieu, 61, announced her resignation via a press release, citing personal and family reasons. She declined Free Press interview requests until this week.
She said she's enjoyed her political retirement and has done a fair bit of travelling. She and her husband own a successful construction business in Headingley.
In a brief telephone interview Monday, she said she had made up her mind before the October 2011 election that it would be her last as a contestant.
She said she fully expected the Tories would sweep to power after a dozen years of NDP rule. She was floored when they didn't.
After the defeat, she said, she found she lacked enthusiasm for the job.
"I just didn't feel that I could give it everything I needed to give it. And I didn't really think that that was a fair situation," she said.
"Life is kind of short and sometimes it's time to just sit back and realize that, and enjoy the things you want to do and not work forever."
Taillieu said she could have sat in the legislature "and put in my time." But she decided it was time for someone new in the safe Tory seat - someone who "would get their feet wet in Opposition and perhaps form the next government and be a representative that would be there for some length of time."
It's just taken a lot longer for that new person to get elected than she ever thought.
11/15/2013 9:54 AM
News that killer Shawn Lamb will be locked up for what most likely will be the rest of his life brings only a small degree of satisfaction to our city and province.
At least he won't hurt anyone else. At least there's that.
Now attention turns, again, to the so many other unsolved murdered and missing women cases.
The one that sticks out in my mind is Velicia Soloman. She was also known as Felicia.
The 16-year-old was last seen in March 2003 when she disappeared during a lunch break at school. Her arm and leg were recovered days apart from the Red River that June. DNA comparison identifed her.
In reporting on her case when I was a police reporter, I at times as now tried to imagine how she met her killer. Or killers.
Did she know them? Did she go with them willingly? Was she abducted?
How did she die? Why dismember her?
Lamb is where he belongs, but there is a lot more to be done.
There are other monsters still out there. And they walk among us.
11/14/2013 1:27 PM
Canadian ambassador to the United States Gary Doer, Manitoba's former premier, talks to Nicholas Kralev on whether politicians make good diplomats.
Doer is to speak Dec. 6 at the Canadian Club luncheon at the the RBC Convention Centre.
About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen
Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.
Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.
At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.
Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.
He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.
Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.
In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.
You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.
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