*EPC votes to spend nearly $20M of Ottawa’s gas tax gift on cancelled
* City allocates funds for street work *
SOME of the city’s planned — but slashed from the 2019 budget — residential
street rehabilitation work appears to be back on track.
Mayor Brian Bowman and members of his executive policy committee (EPC)
Tuesday voted 6-1 in favour of spending almost $20 million — from an
anticipated $40-million-plus windfall from the federal government — to
restore street work.
“We’re thinking about roads, first and foremost,” Bowman told reporters.
“Our first priority is to fix the roads. That’s what Winnipeggers have
asked me to do.”
Council shocked many city residents when it passed its 2019 budget in March
and decided to cancel the bulk of residential street work this year and
next and use that money instead to pay for $40 million worth of work
carried out last year that city hall expected the provincial government to
cover. As a result, the public works department eliminated $45 million of
local street work it had planned this year.
But the federal government announced in its March 19 budget it would be
doubling the gas tax revenue provided to municipalities. Winnipeg receives
about $44 million in federal gas tax revenue annually.
A similar plan to allocate much of the bonus federal dollars was proposed
last week at the public works committee by Coun. Jeff Browaty, who said he
would have liked to have seen the entire amount spent on local streets and
“If roads are really our No. 1 priority, we should be doing everything
possible to continue tackling the road infrastructure deficit that is all
too obvious almost anywhere you look in this city,” Browaty told the Free
Press in an email exchange.
“We have been investing significantly in recreation and social
infrastructure in recent years and I believe it’s time to redouble our
commitment to roads. At this point, anything else would literally be the
equivalent of putting in a swimming pool while the roof of your house is
Tuesday’s EPC motion proposes:
• $19.25 million to be spent on residential streets, as determined by the
public works department.
• $2.5 million be spent this year on unspecified road-safety measures.
• $750,000 for three active-transportation network studies.
• Up to $20 million allocated to local streets and active transportation in
• Any remaining dollars be allocated to projects to be determined in the
2020 multi-year budget process.
Coun. Brian Mayes, chairman of the city’s property and development
committee, cast the lone vote against the proposal.
Mayes (St. Vital) said he believes the local MPs want the additional
federal gas tax monies spent on parks, community centres and other
recreational and leisure facilities.
“I have some concern about the focus being exclusively on the roads,” he
Mayes said he hopes any disagreement with area MPs can be resolved before
council votes on the issue at its April 25 meeting.
However, Bowman told EPC that MP Jim Carr, the federal government’s senior
minister for Manitoba, had assured him that council is free to spend the
funds as it wishes.
City officials told councillors last week that how much work, and which
portions of the original plan, can be done depends on when the money is
available. Federal officials said municipalities can expect to receive the
funding shortly after the budget is passed, which is expected before
Parliament begins its summer recess in June.
*Meanwhile, Waverley underpass nears completion, work on low-income bus
* Gas tax funds may save city street work *
* A WINNIPEG city council committee wants the $40 million-plus in bonus
federal gas tax revenue announced in the 2019 budget to go toward restoring
local street renewal work and active transportation projects.*
* Councillors on the public works committee voted 3-1 Tuesday in support of
using the money on the streets program that had previously been cancelled
after the city said the province reneged on its funding.*
* Jim Berezowsky, director of public works, said how much of the original
program could be carried out this year depends on when the federal
government approves its budget and when city hall receives the funding.*
* Included in the March 19 federal budget was a commitment to double the
dollars given to municipalities through the federal gas tax program, valued
at more than $2 billion. Winnipeg budgeted to receive almost $44 million
this year from the gas tax, and now council has to decide how to spend an
additional $40 million-plus.*
* The public works department had a list of 53 residential streets and back
lanes it wanted to rebuild in 2019. Berezowsky said it may not be possible
to do all the work, but that he would have a report ready for council on
what streets could be completed this year.*
* The lone dissenting voice Tuesday was Coun. Vivian Santos, who said it
would be premature to allocate all of the bonus funds to local street work,
explaining now would be the time to reinvest in the city’s neglected
recreational and leisure facilities and the parks branch.*
* The committee’s recommendation will go before council on April 25.*
Waverley underpass update
The Waverley Street rail underpass should be substantially completed by
October, with the $97.9-million project finished by summer 2020.
Officials from the public works department told councillors the project is
on budget and on schedule.
The project was originally budgeted for $156 million, but was revised
downward in November 2017 to $121.34 million and again in January.
Winnipeg chief administrative officer Doug McNeil said the $467-million
southwest transit corridor project is also on budget and on schedule.
The transit corridor is set for completion in late fall, and set to be
fully operational by spring 2020.
Winnipeg Transit has initiated work on the proposed low-income bus pass.
Transit officials told the committee a team has been assembled and would
hold its first meeting Tuesday.
Council approved the initiative in the city’s 2019 budget, passed March 20.
The low-income bus pass is supposed to be operational by April 2020, first
with a 30 per cent discount on the regular adult fare, rising to 50 per
cent in 2022.
Currently, the full-fare monthly pass costs $100.10.
*As fatalities mount, city’s road-safety strategy has stalled *
THE death toll on Winnipeg’s streets continues to mount while officials
appear unable to develop a plan to make them safe for pedestrians, cyclists
It’s been more than two years since the public works department was
directed to produce a road safety strategy that would strive to eliminate
But no work has been done since the public works committee issued the
directive in January 2017, David Patman, the city’s transportation manager,
told councillors Tuesday. Department staff have been working instead on a
handful of safety measures, he said. In that time 14 pedestrians and one
cyclist have been killed in traffic collisions, as have nine people in
vehicles and two motorcycle riders.
Coun. Janice Lukes, who urged the committee to get tough on the department,
said the death toll on city streets is tragic.
“We are making record investments in roads, in transit and in active
transportation, yet we are nowhere near having a comprehensive road-safety
strategy in place,” Lukes said.
Patman told the committee turnover in two senior positions was behind the
department’s failure to begin the work, adding he expects it will get
underway and become part of an updated transportation master plan due in
Anders Swanson, executive director of Winnipeg Trails Association, said the
number of fatalities on Winnipeg streets is proof they are being designed
for the benefit of motorists, not all users.
“The reality is everybody would like to do the right thing, but only you
folks (councillors) have the political tools,” he said.
Swanson, who is participating in a panel discussion at the annual
conference of the Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals in
Calgary in May, said professionals aren’t designing city streets from the
perspective of people who walk or cycle, or from the perspective of a child.
“You like to blame bad behaviour for causing traffic glitches. The reality
is the same bad behaviour is the same behaviour inherent with children,” he
“If we designed a public road system around children specifically, then it
would be, by definition, safe. There would be basketballs flying around,
bikes weaving in an out, there’d be three bikes riding side by side with
children laughing, giving high-fives, passing a Slurpee to each other. And
that would be OK.
“But we haven’t, and the reason we haven’t is because in 1950 or so, we got
addicted to building a city for cars, for dad driving alone to work in the
morning, and we haven’t been able to get ourselves out of that, and that’s
a conscious decision.”
Committee chairman Coun. Matt Allard said the public works department has
initiated traffic safety measures across the city and he’s confident a
report will be completed someday.
“From my experience, the public works department is really prioritizing
this in ways that I haven’t seen in the past,” Allard said.
“We have a number of things on the go. There’s a lot going on (for) road
safety and traffic calming in the city and I’m looking forward to the
reports coming down the pike.”
Allard was unable to explain how he or the department could be certain
ongoing safety initiatives meet any defined target without a strategy in
“I think the public service is doing what they can to keep us safe on the
roads and they’ll be confirming that in future reports,” he said, while
acknowledging the department has yet to provide him with a comprehensive
list of safety initiatives he requested in November.
“I think you heard today we’re going above and beyond the status quo” when
it comes to road safety, Allard told reporters. “The public service is
doing their job. They are working on this.”
*City safety audit to zero in on crosswalk where girl killed*
THE inner-city intersection where a four-year-old girl was struck and
killed by a vehicle last month is one of several areas in the city that
will be studied as a prelude to the introduction of traffic safety
Public works officials were directed Tuesday to conduct a
pedestrian-traffic study at the intersections of Isabel Street and
Alexander Avenue — where the girl was struck March 18 as she crossed with
her mother — and also two blocks to the south, at Isabel and Ross Avenue.
“We have more pedestrians, we have more traffic in that area for sure and I
definitely would like to see some improvement,” said Coun. Vivian Santos,
who proposed the studies at the public works committee meeting.
The moves had been promised by Santos, the ward councillor, following the
The committee also agreed to conduct a study in six months at an
intersection near École Sage Creek School, at Prairie Smoke Drive and Wild
Parents in the neighbourhood expressed concern about the potential threat
to their children at the intersection, where there are no sidewalks or a
crosswalk. Councillors on the Riel community committee agreed with the
parents’ concerns and asked the public works committee to direct the
department to investigate traffic-calming measures, including making the
intersection a three-way stop or installing a pedestrian crosswalk.
Discussion on road safety dominated the committee meeting, during which
councillors learned the public works department had yet to begin developing
a citywide road-safety strategy, despite being directed to by the same
committee in January 2017.
There have been five pedestrian deaths thus far this year, the most recent
Monday in a Garden City Shopping Centre parking lot. In 2018, three
cyclists and a pedestrian were killed in separate collisions with vehicles.
In 2017, six pedestrians were killed and in 2016, four cyclists and three
pedestrians were killed in separate collisions with vehicles.
The Isabel-Ross intersection has a marked pedestrian crosswalk, but
residents in the area requested an upgrade in 2016.
The nearby Freight House community centre, located on the west side of the
intersection, is a popular destination for area children, Santos said, and
vehicles were frequently ignoring the crosswalk signals.
Santos said she’d like to see a pedestrian- activated signal installed at
Isabel and Ross, where the light would remain green for north-south traffic
until a pedestrian activates the signal to cross the busy street.
Santos said the intersection to the north, Isabel and Alexander, needs a
formal crosswalk — she recommended something similar to the eye-level,
flashing LED installation put up in St. Vital a year ago, following the
death of an eight-year-old boy. That type is becoming common in many other
“I’m very, very happy that my council colleagues supported me,” Santos
said, adding she briefed the other committee members before the meeting and
advised them of her proposals.
Dear fellow at-network colleagues,
As you may know, I am the volunteer chair of Vélo Canada Bikes, a national
non-profit organization that advocates for increased federal support for
everyday cycling in Canada. Founded in 2012, Vélo Canada Bikes has a vision
of a Canada where all people of all ages and abilities can safely use a
bicycle for daily transportation and a federal government that plays a big
role in making it happen. We are hosting our 3rd National Bike Summit
<http://www.canadabikes.org/2019-national-bike-summit/> in Ottawa on May
13th and 14th, 2019 in conjunction with the 8th annual Bike Day on the Hill
celebration and I hope you will join us.
Why attend? Highlights will include keynotes include *Todd Litman*, *Kay
Teschke* (in case you missed her at ModeShift2018 she is a must see for
many reasons..), *Karl Saidla,* *Teresa Tam and more.* You'd be joining and
supporting a Winnipeg contingent (see Jamie Hilland's presentation for
example) and contribute to the future of cycling back home (consider how
many projects in Winnipeg have benefitted from federal funding in the past
or stand to in the future). You are offered a chance to join meetings with
MPs and Senators and make a real difference. Full program info here.
Quick breakdown: The summit is an opportunity for cycling stakeholders from
across Canada to join in a national conversation on the importance of
federal support for cycling in Canada, particularly policy support, such as
a National Cycling Strategy and specific components especially funding for
cycling infrastructure. New topics/focus this year includes the emerging
e-bike revolution, MTB'ing trails and greenways, gender equity, and much
more. Sunday May 12 - Pre-conference - Join us on Sunday for a national
conversation on greenways and trails. Monday May 13 - The first day of the
Bike Summit itself takes place at Ottawa City Hall and consist of
presentations and interactive sessions. The purpose of this day is to
mobilize and educate cycling stakeholders so that, together, we can take
coordinated and concrete steps towards building a bike friendly Canada. In
the evening, a reception will be hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary
Cycling Caucus on Parliament Hill. Tuesday May 14 - Day 2 takes place on
the Hill itself and is a combination of meetings with MPs/Senators and
concurrent programming related to federal cycling advocacy(You can opt
to be included in cycling education meetings with Parliamentarians or not,
but I strongly reommend it for anyone). It can be quite eye-opening,
productive and always very interesting. At 4:30pm, Summit delegates will
join National Health and Fitness Day organizers and participate in the 8th
Annual Bike Day on the Hill. Delegates and other cycling supporters will
gather on the steps of Parliament Hill for a few speeches followed by a 40
minute bike ride with MPs, Senators and other federal officials. The day
will be capped off by an informal BBQ reception in the East Block courtyard.
Summit registration is open <http://www.canadabikes.org/registration/> and
early bird and student discounts are available. Those who register by
April 12th can take advantage of early bird prices. Thanks for reading.
Kindly, Anders 204-797-1962
P.S.. I realize Ottawa is far away. It is far cheaper/easier to stay home,
especially at such a busy time in the spring. I personally hate to fly
and/or travel so far to reduce GHGs. However, each every time we do this, I
feel that we inch just a little closer to a bike friendly Canada. And doing
that opens doors for a lot of people. It is worth it. With an election
coming, this is a critical chance to help put cycling on the agenda for
once and for all. And whether you are a professional or a keen advocate,
hearing what's up across Canada and visiting the hill itself is both
invigorating and fascinating. Hope you can make it.
FYI. Know someone with a passion for cycling and experience working with
newcomers to Canada?
The WRENCH is seeking a Newcomer Mentor to be part of our Wheels of Courage
The posting for the position is attached as a pdf. It can be found on the
WRENCH website here: