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Construction bidding, campaign donations, transit rework: mayoral roundup

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A mayoral candidate says the City of Winnipeg must focus on each bidder’s qualifications to award construction design contracts, instead of just selecting the lowest price.

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A mayoral candidate says the City of Winnipeg must focus on each bidder’s qualifications to award construction design contracts, instead of just selecting the lowest price.

Jenny Motkaluk said Thursday she would switch the city to a qualification-based selection process, which would ensure the best-suited company can complete the design phase for each routine capital project.

“The result (would be) better outcomes on projects that taxpayers are paying for,” she said.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk said Thursday she would switch the city to a qualification-based selection process, which would ensure the best-suited company can complete the design phase for each routine capital project.

The candidate said this type of system would help prevent planning errors, which she believes played a role in major cost hikes on sewage treatment plant upgrades and the Winnipeg Police Service headquarters construction project.

“City hall uses outdated and antiquated procurement practices and Winnipeggers have paid the price… As mayor, I will make sure that there are guarantees and warranties, so construction companies are responsible for added costs and held to account.”

While the city has a point system to award projects, Motkaluk has deemed it too general, leaving price to be prioritized above all else. While she admitted the new selection process could cost the city more at the planning stage, she said the city should save on overall project costs.

Motkaluk also used her Thursday news conference to question a donation made to mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham’s campaign by John Garcea, a subcontractor on the WPS headquarters project.

In court documents related to the ongoing police HQ lawsuit, the city has alleged Garcea, his wife and companies they control inflated invoices linked to the project. The allegations have not been proven in court.

The headquarters cost $214 million, well above its initial $135-million price tag, and an external audit found it was severely mismanaged.

Motkaluk later declined to specify exactly what allegation she was making about Gillingham in relation to the donation.

“I’m suggesting that people should look carefully at who’s supporting which candidates,” she said.

Garcea could not be reached for comment.

Colin Fast, a spokesperson for Gillingham, confirmed the campaign received a $500 donation from Garcea. However, it has since refunded the cash, he said.

“It was a donation that was made online five days after Scott had recommitted to following through with the Winnipeg police headquarters lawsuit. We respect the right of anyone to make a legal donation to any campaign but, in this case, we’ve decided to refund the contribution and we challenge all candidates, including Jenny Motkaluk, to release their donor lists for public scrutiny,” said Fast.

Fast then questioned why Motkaluk won’t reveal who has contributed to her campaign. “We have no idea who’s on her donor list. To be throwing stones when you aren’t willing to be transparent yourself is a bit much.”

Elsewhere, mayoral contender Rana Bokhari promised to reduce the cost of an adult monthly bus pass to $20 (from $106) within four years, if she’s elected.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Mayoral candidate Rana Bokhari promised to reduce the cost of an adult monthly bus pass to $20 (from $106) within four years, if she’s elected.

“You’re going to have more people using the bus, we’re going to reduce carbon emissions… You’re going to have people who are able to get to jobs, get to all the places they need to go in a cost-efficient manner,” said Bokhari.

The candidate said standard fare is far too expensive for many Winnipeggers on low or fixed incomes.

If elected Oct. 26, Bokhari also plans to: work with neighbouring municipalities on park-and-ride options that help them commute to the Winnipeg; better connect bus routes in suburbs to more central lines; push for the Winnipeg Transit Master Plan to be completed in 15 years (instead of by 2045); replace diesel buses with electric ones gradually; increase frequency on key bus routes; and switch a planned leg of bus rapid transit set to run down Portage Avenue to a light rail route.

While Winnipeg has shied away from light rail transit due to concerns about its cost in the past, Bokhari said the idea is part of a forward-thinking vision.

“LRT is just one part of a network… I’ve never envisioned the city without it.”

Bokhari said the city can’t rush to add electric buses much sooner than its current plan because it needs time to set up infrastructure, such as charging stations.

While she didn’t offer a cost estimate for her Transit plan, Bokhari argues it could be funded through increased ridership and other levels of government.

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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