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This article was published 25/4/2012 (3134 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A downtown water park went down the drain at city council Wednesday, but $300 million of new freeways got the green light.
City council voted to extend the Chief Peguis Trail all the way to Route 90 and the William Clement Parkway to Wilkes Avenue, both by 2016.
The city's transportation master plan says Winnipeg should extend Chief Peguis Trail to McPhillips Street by 2021 at a cost of $110 million and connect it to Route 90 by 2031 for an estimated $130 million.
Couns. Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) and Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) called for the roadwork to be completed earlier to improve traffic flow to and from the CentrePort transportation hub. Sharma said the Chief Peguis Trail extension is one of the main transportation routes for CentrePort and will help expand the city's trade profile and reduce truck traffic on other regional streets.
The William Clement Parkway extension is expected to help facilitate the future Ridgewood South development in Charleswood and reduce existing traffic issues.
"This would alleviate much of the residential traffic that goes onto Kenaston (Boulevard) and direct it to a different route, to Wilkes," Havixbeck said.
Public works chairman Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) asked that the idea be sent to council's public works committee for further review. His motion was defeated, and council voted to approve finishing the freeways sooner with an 11-5 vote.
Mayor Sam Katz and Couns. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), Ross Eadie (Mynarski), Scott Fielding (St. James), Havixbeck, Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas), Sharma, Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre), Thomas Steen (Elmwood), Russ Wyatt (Transcona), and Grant Nordman (St. Charles) voted to complete the two freeways by 2016.
Eadie said the Chief Peguis Trail extension is needed to reduce the traffic loads on roads such as Leila Avenue and should be done as soon as possible. Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James) said he thinks the roadways are a good investment and should be more of a priority than the second phase of rapid transit.
Vandal called the approval "bizarre" and said the city just completed an extensive $2-million review of its future transportation needs, which included industrial land studies and modelling for traffic and growth. City council approved its long-term transportation master plan in November and Vandal said not much has changed since then.
"I think it sends the wrong message to administration and to the province, who I'm sure paid for half of the master plan," he said. "The fact that we can make these $300 million in changes without any administrative comment on whether they're worthwhile is bizarre."
Some members of council said the decision encourages councillors to lobby for projects that only benefit their ward, and Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights) said making the freeways a priority essentially makes the long-term transportation plan "useless."
"The squeaky wheel gets the grease and we better get out there and start making deals and trading horses and making some noise," added Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge). "Transportation planning should not be done that way."
Gerbasi said Winnipeg needs to strike a balance between building roads and investing in rapid transit, noting the city still spends far less than others in building transit.
City council approved its 2012 operating budget in March without a 20-cent transit-fare hike that was to pay the city's portion of the $300-million cost of the second leg of Winnipeg's rapid-transit corridor. City council approved the master transportation plan with a goal of completing the corridor by 2016.
Havixbeck said it's sad some members of council think of building roads and rapid transit as an either/or choice. She said she's asked the developer of Ridgewood South that rapid transit be considered, and would like to see a rapid-transit route that services the city's southwest.