Return to sender: $2.2 million in rapid-transit funding Officials say the funding had strings attached -- but won't say what they are
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/06/2019 (1461 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A cheque for $2.2 million in funding delivered to the City of Winnipeg has been returned to sender — the province of Manitoba — because it came with unacceptable strings attached.
But just what those strings were and why city officials found them disagreeable remains unclear, since little light has been shed on the latest funding skirmish to break out between Broadway and city hall.
The decision to turn down funding, which was earmarked for phase two of the Southwest Rapid Transitway project, is an unusual move for the cash-strapped city. News of the decision was included in a report that will be tabled at Friday’s meeting of the finance committee.
“Four project claims on the Southwest Rapid Transit project phase two have been submitted to the province totalling $18 million. The city has received and deposited payments totalling $15.8 million. An additional $2.2 million was received but with trust conditions attached,” the report reads. Phase two would expand the existing Southwest Transitway corridor, which runs from downtown to Jubilee Avenue, by 7.6 kilometres to the University of Manitoba.
“This cheque was not deposited and subsequently was returned to the province as the city solicitor was unable to accept the trust conditions that the province sought to impose.”
‘The city’s position at the time, and the position I maintain, is I expect the provincial government to fulfill the funding agreement that they’ve signed.’ – Scott Gillingham, chairman of the city’s finance committee
Finance committee chairman Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James-Brooklands-Weston) said he was provided with few details on the nature of the trust conditions the provincial government attached to the funding; however, he said it’s believed the conditions related to a desire to change or amend the funding agreement between the two levels of government.
“I’m going to be asking the administration that question at the committee meeting on Friday and whether this request to amend the agreement by the province was related to the similar request they made in 2018 to make changes to the agreement,” Gillingham said.
“The city’s position at the time, and the position I maintain, is I expect the provincial government to fulfill the funding agreement that they’ve signed.”
The Free Press sent written questions to the city Tuesday requesting additional information. A city spokesman did not answer the questions, instead saying further details would be provided at Friday’s meeting.
Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton was asked about the dispute during an unrelated press conference at the Manitoba legislature Monday, but did not provide specifics on what the trust conditions were — adding provincial and city officials were still in funding discussions.
The initial funding agreement for the project totalled $587 million, with the province and city expected to contribute $225 million each. The federal government signed on to contribute the remaining money.
“At this point, I know the administration reviewed those trust conditions and determined they were not acceptable and so made the decision to return the $2.2 million cheque,” Gillingham said.
“This is my fifth year on council and, to my recollection, I have not seen this happen before.”
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.