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This article was published 5/10/2018 (789 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Despite having a comfortable lead in the polls with less than three weeks till election day, Brian Bowman has taken to borrowing promises from his opponents.
At a news conference at his campaign headquarters Friday, Bowman said if he’s re-elected, he’ll establish a working group with the road construction industry. Their goal would be implementing 24-7 work schedules, finding ways to award contracts on local street-renewal projects faster and improving communication with residents and businesses affected by repairs.
The 24-7 work schedule was first raised by Umar Hayat at the first mayoral forum, Sept. 18, at the University of Winnipeg. He raised it again Thursday night at the Winnipeg Realtors and Winnipeg Free Press mayoral forum.
When asked Friday if he planned to borrow any other policies from other candidates, Bowman’s response implied he hadn’t been paying attention to Hayat’s proposals or anything else he had said Thursday.
"In the course of a campaign, as always, no one has a monopoly on good ideas," Bowman said. "If he and I share a desire for increased 24-7, then that’s OK."
While Bowman said he’s been on the record supporting the 24-7 construction schedule, his campaign could produce only one television news clip from July, when he said the city would look at the issue.
"Now is the time to really sit down with industry," to discuss 24-7 construction schedules, Bowman said, adding he would support it for residential streets if homeowners agree with the proposal.
The heavy construction industry has opposed 24-7 schedules in the past, citing concern for workers’ safety, the ability to find a sufficient number of people willing to work overnight and the effect of noise in residential areas.
Bowman told reporters Friday that none of his challengers have committed to the city’s six-year, $976-million road renewal plan. However, Hayat has endorsed it and did so again Thursday night, in addition to indicating his support for the dedicated property tax increases to finance the city’s share of the renewal plan.
Again, Bowman’s response suggested he hadn’t listened to what Hayat said Thursday.
"Well, that’s great. That’s great to hear," the mayor said, adding he wants to hear other candidates commit to the plan.
Bowman was critical of Jenny Motkaluk, who has yet to provide a cost analysis of her campaign promises, which she said she would do Oct. 11.
At Thursday night’s forum, Hayat, a real estate and stock market investor, questioned the quality of the road work that’s been done, asking audience members what was the point of spending $116 million on road renewal this year when it seems that the city is repairing the same streets every second year.
Even challenger Motkaluk questioned how city hall has been spending its road money.
"It’s not about how much money we spend, it’s about the outcomes we achieve," she told the forum.
In an apparent dig at Motkaluk on Thursday night, Bowman told reporters Friday that the city needed to get the best price for the road-renewal contracts.
Motkaluk has challenged the lowest-price concept, following Hayat’s proposal and arguing the city should award road construction contracts instead to the firms that have demonstrated the ability to do the best work, a system known as qualifications-based selection. That model is considered a best practice by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for contracts awarded to architects and engineers, is supported by the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association and is the approach favoured by the U.S. government since 1972.
Bowman said city hall includes quality criteria when assessing bid proposals along with price, but added that ignoring price for road construction projects is a poor policy.
"I don’t support this approach at all," he said. "When construction companies bidding on construction projects become more important in the selection process than the price taxpayers pay, we start heading down a risky road."