Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz has upped the ante in his rapid-transit dispute with the province by formally asking city staff to explore the idea of developing a light-rail system.

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First day of handling rush hour traffic at the new LRT station in Edmonton.

BRIAN J. GAVRILOFF / CNS

First day of handling rush hour traffic at the new LRT station in Edmonton.

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz has upped the ante in his rapid-transit dispute with the province by formally asking city staff to explore the idea of developing a light-rail system.

The city is in the midst of building the first phase of the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor, a $137-million bus corridor that will run 3.6 kilometres from Queen Elizabeth Way near The Forks to Jubliee Avenue at Pembina Highway. All three levels of government are contributing to the project, which is slated to be completed next year.

But Katz does not want to proceed with plans to build the $220 million second phase of the busway, a six-kilometre extension to Bison Drive near the University of Manitoba. The province has offered up at least $63 million toward the project, but the mayor wants to spend the funds on road and bridge projects instead.

Earlier this year, Katz called on Premier Greg Selinger to fly with him to Ottawa to lobby the Harper government to fund an LRT system. But the province has been cool to the idea. Senior Manitoba MP Vic Toews, meanwhile, said Ottawa stands with the province on rapid-transit issues.

Now, Katz plans to present executive policy committee with a motion to explore the idea of light-rail transit. That motion will come before EPC on Wednesday and then proceed to council on April 28.

The city is already in the midst of exploring LRT. The city and province are spending $1.15 million on a transportation study as part of Our Winnipeg, a $3.2 million effort to develop a new long-term planning framework for the city.