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Steeves attacks Wasylycia-Leis' plan for BRT without new proposals of his own

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Finishing the second leg of the Southwest Transitway will mean an extra five percent tax hike, warned mayoral candidate Gord Steeves, who vowed to cancel rapid transit and start fresh.

Speaking to reporters near the Parker lands, the controversial detour planned for the second leg to the University of Manitoba, Steeves challenged rival Judy Wasylycia-Leis to explain how she would pay for the $590 million project. He said the city’s share of the project, about $225 million, will mean council will need to find $20 million a year starting in 2020 and lasting for 30 years. That’s to cover the capital costs and the ongoing maintenance payments to the private builder under the P3 model.

Steeves said $20 million amounts to a five per cent tax hike over and above the three per cent Wasylycia-Leis has affirmed.

"I do not believe Judy has contemplated the full and far reaching impact of the cost of the second phase of bus rapid transit," said Steeves. "Is she simply planning on going deeper into debt as her political masters at the province are prone to do?"

Steeves restated a pledge to freeze property taxes and kill the second leg of the southwest corridor because it won’t improve service and won’t spark the kind of dense development the original route close to Pembina Highway was meant to.

It was the third day in a row Steeves castigated Wasylycia-Leis without announcing anything new.

Though asked repeatedly, Steeves would not offer his vision for the next leg of rapid transit - where it should run, how to pay for it, or when it could be completed. He also declined to offer a general statement in support of the notion of a high speed line to the University of Manitoba.

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