Archived Winnipeg Labour Council Stories

City Budget Has Positives - Disappointments

 

- Jenny Gerbasi, Councillor Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry

The City of Winnipeg's draft of the 2010 Capital Budget and 2011- 2015 Five Year Forecast was made publicon November 16. The Capital budget outlines the projects the city will do in areas such as streets, public transit, active transportation, water and waste infrastructure and civic buildings.

There are clearly some positives contained in this 'laundry list' of projects. There is new funding for Assiniboine Park and for bike paths (coming from the recent Federal announcement of $20 million). Funding for the Public Art program and for Image Route Enhancements/ Streetscaping remains intact. Projects such as the Osborne Bridge Rehabilitation and funding for Riverbank Stabilization to begin the Churchill Parkway project are included. The Accessibility Program for making city facilities universally accessible is intact and improvements will be made to the Historic Archives Building on William Avenue and to the ramps at the 510 Main Street complex.

The major disappointment in the Five Year Forecast, is the absence of any funding to build future phases of Rapid Transit. We know the Province has committed through Climate Change Legislation to match any city funding for Rapid Transit. The Federal Funding is much more likely to materialize if the city is clear that public transit is indeed a priority. The city should be showing the leadership to support Public Transit by making a commitment in future years to Phase 2 of the Southwest and Phase 1 of the Eastern Corridor at the very least.

The big new project you will see supported in this budget is the Waverly West Arterial Roads project. Spurred on by the September Federal announcement, a partial grade separation at Kenaston and Bishop Grandin, the extension and widening of Kenaston and the widening of Waverly will be built at a cost of over 50 million dollars. Due to the Federal announcement this project has jumped to the head of the queue.

Also included in this Capital budget is the Chief Peguis Trail extension which will cost at least $5.4 million per year for the next 30 years. It may cost a lot more as there is a request to expand the project to deal with a grade separation addition. I guess it is a matter of priorities and these budget documents do identify the priorities of the civic government.

In Winnipeg the trend continues to invest in new and expanded car oriented infrastructure rather than in Public Transit infrastructure. Most successful Canadian cities are chosing to invest significant dollars in public transit as they recognize the fiscal, social and environmental benefits that come with it.

Since we realistically can't build every project that people want, we should be making these decisions based on cost benefit analysis and sustainability principles. If we actually did that, I believe we would be chosing to invest in Rapid Transit at a much faster rate. It is unfortunate that the City of Winnipeg is moving at a snails pace and falling behind other jurisdictions in becoming the kind of city that will be prepared for a changing world.

You can see a more detailed outline of the draft budget on the City web site. There is an opportunity for the public to speak to the budget at some upcoming meetings: including from November 30 to December 3, in Standing Policy Committees - on December 3 at Executive Policy Committee which will be hearing delegations - and at the December 15 Council Meeting. For more information about when and how to participate you can contact City Clerks by calling 311 or email 311@winnipeg.ca .

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