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Gillingham’s billion-dollar promise

Mayoral hopeful gets behind Kenaston widening, Chief Peguis expansion

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Scott Gillingham vows to deliver on the long-awaited widening of Kenaston Boulevard and an extension of the Chief Peguis Trail, if he’s elected mayor next month.

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Scott Gillingham vows to deliver on the long-awaited widening of Kenaston Boulevard and an extension of the Chief Peguis Trail, if he’s elected mayor next month.

Gillingham said the city’s economic woes shouldn’t prevent the two major investments from being made, which past estimates predicted would each cost more than $500 million.

“Sometimes you have to make an investment to receive a return on investment. If Winnipeg wants to make gains in trade and commerce, we need to invest in our trade infrastructure across the city,” said Gillingham.

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“If Winnipeg wants to make gains in trade and commerce, we need to invest in our trade infrastructure across the city,” said mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham.

Specifically, the projects would widen Kenaston/ Route 90 between Taylor and Ness avenues, and extend Chief Peguis from Main Street to Brookside Boulevard.

Gillingham, a former council finance chairman, acknowledged the “economic emergency” created by COVID-19, combined with skyrocketing inflation rates and a massive snow-clearing bill last winter, has left the city with significant financial challenges. A recent update warned the municipal government is on track to a $55.9-million tax-supported operating deficit by the end of this year.

Despite the cash crunch, Gillingham stressed it’s still possible to invest in projects that will help improve the financial outlook.

“On the capital side, it’s responsible to use debt for major, long-term, inter-generational capital projects, especially if they increase our city’s economic strength and competitiveness,” he said.

The candidate said he would aim to have tenders in place to construct both projects by as early as 2026. However, he stressed the city must first refine the price tags and complete business case studies to ensure each project would produce a “positive return on investment” for all three levels of government.

“This is not road-building for road-building’s sake,” he said.

Gillingham said he would seek funding from the senior levels of government and impose a dedicated infrastructure property tax increase to help fund the projects.

He promised to reveal the size of the tax hike before the Oct. 26 election.

He noted Winnipeggers have complained for decades about the traffic congestion that plagues Kenaston.

“I remember going to football games with my father 40 years ago and sitting in gridlock on Kenaston. I think anyone who’s driven (down) Kenaston in the last several decades has experienced that,” said Gillingham.

Monday’s pledge adds to a string of recent transportation announcements from Gillingham. On Sunday, he promised to expand active transportation options, by adding $13 million to the budget to eliminate gaps in sidewalk and cycling networks between 2023 and 2026. That would add to $12 million already earmarked for active transportation during that period.

Also on the hustings Monday, mayoral hopeful Jenny Motkaluk unveiled more details about her tax plan, which she had said would ensure homeowners don’t pay higher tax bills as a result of renovating their homes.

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“As long as you own your house, your bills are predictable and we don’t punish people for improving their homes while they live in them,” said mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk.

“As long as you own your house, your bills are predictable and we don’t punish people for improving their homes while they live in them,” said Motkaluk.

In an interview, she said her “fairness and predictability” plan would use a pre-emptive rebate to adjust tax bills. That would eliminate extra costs linked to the increased assessed value of a home. Tax bills would still be subject to general tax hikes.

Mayoral hopeful Rana Bokhari promised to ensure Winnipeg’s drinking water is tested for asbestos content.

“As research into the issue of asbestos in water pipes and the possibly detrimental effect on human health has continued for the past 30 years, it’s become increasingly obvious that we are ignoring a major potential health hazard in our water system,” Bokhari said, in a news release.

However, Health Canada’s website concludes “there is no consistent, convincing evidence that asbestos ingested through water is harmful to your health.”

The latest round of mayoral promises comes as another city council race gets a second candidate. Incumbent councillor Jeff Browaty is no longer the sole person running to represent North Kildonan, as Andrew Podolecki has registered to run against him. Couns. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry), Markus Chambers (St. Norbert-Seine River) and Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) still lack challengers in their wards.

Candidates for mayor and council can register until Sept. 20 for the Oct. 26 election.

Joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

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.

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