City hall flags sky-high gas prices
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/03/2022 (250 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As gas prices soar, there’s a push to conserve fuel in the City of Winnipeg fleet.
Coun. Kevin Klein has proposed the city develop an extensive formal plan to cut fuel usage by fleet vehicles used by its staff while they are on the job.
As he introduced a motion, he said that with prices at some local stations reaching as high as 189 cents per litre in recent weeks, there’s a clear need to cut costs.
“There (are) efficiencies that are being missed… and I think all departments need to start having that communication more to cut down on costs but also to cut down on use of fossil fuels, especially now that the prices (are so high),” said Klein.
The councillor suggested a formal strategy should prevent idling, encourage carpooling for some work trips, give preference to virtual (instead of in-person) inspections and ensure direct routes for trips. It also calls for the city to pursue ways to power in-vehicle devices by batteries instead of fuel, while transitioning to smaller cars, as well as hybrid and electric vehicles.
Klein suggests staff could co-ordinate large amounts of work in a single area of the city whenever possible to reduce the amount of travel required each day.
Since the city spends millions on fuel each year, a lack of effort to conserve fuel could force elected officials to consider tax hikes or service cuts, said Klein.
“This is the problem that we face today and we have to get ahead of it. It’s a crisis,” he said.
Mayor Brian Bowman said he’s open to considering new ways city staff could be asked to conserve fuel, though he’s had little time to review Klein’s motion.
“If there’s a discussion about what steps (the public service is) currently taking, as well as what additional steps might be practical, I’d be open to that,” said Bowman.
A city spokesperson said some steps to cut fuel use are already being pursued.
“The public service is already taking many of the steps noted in (this) motion, and (would) more fully highlight these items in a report (to) council in response to the motion,” said Felicia Wiltshire, in an emailed statement.
For example, the city’s website notes it monitors vehicle idling times of its fleet and is conducting a trial project using two electric vehicles and two electric vehicle charging stations.
Klein’s motion will be debated by the executive policy committee next month.
Meanwhile, the city’s finance committee has separately called for an update on the impact of rising fuel costs and inflation.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
Updated on Thursday, March 24, 2022 5:43 PM CDT: Adds finance committee detail