City advised to reduce project design spending
THE City of Winnipeg could impose strict criteria for when a project
warrants a detailed design, following concerns it has spent millions
exploring projects that don’t get built.
“It’s city practice to do… functional designs, which are detailed designs
of major infrastructure projects. And those things are done in advance of
having funding for (the project). As a result, we have a number of them on
the books that are designed but they’re not funded,” said Coun. Matt Allard.
“We have several projects that have a lot of merit and several projects
that should be built, if we had the money. However, if you add them up,
it’s clear as day that we don’t have the funding.”
Allard, who is council’s public works chairman, is calling for city staff
to study the idea of putting conditions in place before money is spent on a
functional design. He believes each project should have a class five (quite
preliminary) cost estimate and a minimum of 40 per cent of its total price
included in Winnipeg’s five-year capital budget forecast to qualify for
Allard’s motion calls for future functional designs to include a 30-year
forecast of operating and maintenance costs for each project, as well as an
assessment of how it will affect the city’s tax base, including the impact
of properties acquired to make room for it.
If public works agrees, the report would also explore options to have city
staff to manage functional designs inhouse, without turning to consultants.
“I’m trying to get more information on the table and I would like us to not
spend money until we know that there’s a political desire to pursue a
project,” said Allard.
He estimates the city has spent several million dollars in recent years on
consultant studies for major projects that remain unfunded, indefinitely
postponed or cancelled. That includes $1.25 million to design a widening
and grade separation for Marion Street. That project was abandoned in 2016,
largely because its $566-million price was deemed too expensive, said
“I think (these proposed changes are) tightening up our processes so
that we don’t spend money before
we need to do so,” Allard told his colleagues on the Riel community
committee just before they approved the motion on Tuesday. “Why not save
millions of dollars, do the political work and then actually build
The councillor told the Free Press additional design work on the William R.
Clement Parkway, Arlington Bridge, Kenaston Boulevard and Chief Peguis
Trail cost a combined $7.9 million, while the related projects have yet to
In an email, city spokesman Kalen Qually said the public service will
review Allard’s specific motion.
However, Qually said functional and preliminary design studies are needed
to develop cost estimates that are “suitable for budgeting purposes.”
He said such work often can’t be completed by city staff. “Many functional
designs require specialized engineering expertise that may not exist within
the public service. In addition, internal staff resources are not available
to undertake the investigations necessary to develop many of these
projects,” said Qually.
The statement cautioned against deeming the functional design spending to
be a waste.
“Preliminary work may be completed well ahead of construction so it’s
difficult to say certain projects won’t be completed,” he said.
The public works committee will consider Allard’s motion on June 9.
Cyclists urge city to prioritize major bike routes for street sweeping
Grinding their gears
AFTER carefully steering through a layer of road sand on key bike lanes to
avoid losing their grip, some cyclists are urging the city to guarantee a
quicker spring cleanup in the future.
Bicycle commuters argue it’s time the busiest active transportation routes
and on-road bike lanes are prioritized to promptly sweep away the debris.
“At this time of year, the existing infrastructure … is not properly
maintained and it makes it borderline impassable in a lot of spots,” said
Evan Krosney, who regularly commutes to work by bike. “The winter that
we’ve had has certainly exacerbated the problem this year but it is a
Krosney recently took his complaints to social media, tweeting images of
the Maryland Street bike lane, between Broadway and Sara Avenue, which he
said was still not cleaned up by Friday.
“The bike lanes that are most heavily used seem to fall to the bottom of
the priority list,” he said.
Krosney is urging the city to prioritize major bike routes for street
sweeping, in a similar fashion to the snow-clearing schedule, which bases
the plowing order on the demand level for each type of route.
Cyclist Julie Penner said she expected some delay on bike lane sweeping due
to this year’s spring snowstorms. But she questions why her own quiet
residential street was cleaned weeks ago, while at least part of a key bike
route connecting Wolseley to the downtown was only partially cleared this
“There were so many examples of … unsafe cycling conditions that I had to
stop and just start taking pictures. In some areas, you kind of just have
to cycle at a crawl basically, because if you’re going to be making turns
and there’s so much gravel, you run the risk of wiping out,” said Penner.
After tweeting her photos of the route, Penner received a social media
response from the city that noted spring cleanup will continue until June
19, urging her to report any routes that aren’t cleared by that date.
“It’s a month away. That to me is not acceptable,” said Penner.
Active transportation advocates argue the city should give bike routes a
higher spring cleaning priority because excess gravel and sand can prove
more treacherous to bicycles than motorized vehicles.
“(At some spots) there’s probably three inches of sand sitting in the bike
lane and that’s more than enough to easily cause someone to lose control of
their bike… If you’re making a turn, it’s very easy to lose that contact
with the pavement. It’s almost like you’re back on ice,” said Mark Cohoe,
executive director of Bike Winnipeg.
Cohoe said quicker cleaning of the routes would support Winnipeg’s goal to
combat climate change by making it easier for more residents to switch from
single-passenger vehicles to active transportation.
Anders Swanson, executive director of the Winnipeg Trails Association, said
spring cleaning delays pose a “chronic issue” for cyclists.
“At some point… a proper bike lane network (must be) maintained to a
standard that makes everybody feel safe and comfortable, period. And that
includes not having a beach in the middle of a bike lane,” said Swanson.
Current city policy does not set a demand- based priority system for street
and bike lane sweeping. That differs from the standards for Winnipeg snow
clearing, which require the busiest streets and active transportation
routes to be cleared first, said Michael Cantor, the city’s manager of
Instead, a spring maintenance program targets set geographic zones for
clearing, with the goal of ensuring entire areas can be cleaned up quickly
while minimizing traffic and noise concerns, he said.
“There’s no priority system, really. In spring cleanup, we are cleaning the
(non-regional bus routes and collector streets) and (residential) streets
during the days and the (major routes) during the night because of traffic.
So we do everything at the same time,” said Cantor.
He said it would be possible for council to change the policy and add a
priority element for clearing the busiest bike lanes and paths but that
would cost taxpayers more.
“It’s a matter of resources and budget and what the city would like to
do to do it faster and sooner.
Bottom line, it’s always about funding,” said Cantor.
The current spring cleanup process is expected to cost the city about $6
million this year and usually takes about six weeks to complete.
Cantor noted inclement weather has played a key role in delaying the
cleanup this year. The city wasn’t able to start street and path sweeping
until May 1, when it’s usually able to do so by mid-April.
Even after it finally stopped snowing and began warming up, a series of
rainstorms caused some additional delays, Cantor said. The process is now
expected to wrap up around June 24, instead of the usual June 1.
“It’s really weather dependent and this a ripple effect from this
interesting winter that we had, when we had lots of snow and melting snow,
so it was wet all the time. And we had rain events, so it’s kind of a
perfect storm happening for us,” he said.
City crews had swept about 33 per cent of all Winnipeg bike lanes by
While cyclists have complained about some residential roads being swept
before major bike lanes, Cantor said it’s tough to compare the two. He
noted buffered bike lanes require smaller equipment to access, meaning
they’re maintenance dates compete for resources with sidewalks, not roads.
“We sweep all of the inventory within six weeks. There will be streets that
will be swept on the last week and there will be bike paths that will be
swept on the (last week),” said Cantor.
joyanne.pursaga(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga
Approved, paid-for bike, walking lanes didn’t appear when roads rebuilt
Missing: active pathways, millions to pay for them
ON paper, it seems like a pair of simple projects that could easily be done
to move Winnipeg’s active transportation agenda forward.
But like most things in the city, what is budgeted and what actually
two different things.
In the case of the bike-lane and multi-use path projects, the cost of which
total $2.2 million and were supposed to be completed last year, no one can
clearly explain why the work wasn’t done. Or where the money went.
The University Crescent road reconstruction project was launched with Phase
1 of construction beginning in 2021 and Phase 2 scheduled for this year.
City council approved $9.9 million for the project, including $900,000 for
a protected bike lane in the first phase, and $1.2 million for active
transportation infrastructure in the second.
But there was no bike lane when last year’s construction was completed.
The council-approved 2015 pedestrian and cycling strategy identified the
location (near the University of Manitoba) as one of the highest priorities
in the city for active transportation infrastructure.
Coun. Matt Allard, who chairs the public works committee, said he’s
repeatedly asked that department and chief administrative officer Michael
Jack what happened on the project and why the bike lane wasn’t built — to
no avail. “I’m concerned. I’m frustrated. I’m waiting for answers,” said
Allard (St. Boniface).
“I’ve had multiple meetings with staff from the public works department.
I’ve had a meeting with the CAO. I’ve requested a subsequent meeting with
“There is a lot of uncertainty in terms of what is going on, as it pertains
to approved budgets, council policies and what has happened on the ground.”
The city refused a Free Press request for an interview with staff about the
University Crescent project. Instead, Ken Allen, communications
co-ordinator for the public works department, sent a written statement.
“The project is ongoing and certain sections have been completed. Work on
completing the entire active transportation pathway is contingent on
finalizing land acquisition and addressing land drainage issues,” Allen
But he did not address the request for details on why the protected bike
lane wasn’t built and what happened to the $900,000 set aside for its
Allard said the University Crescent project is not a one-off.
The city’s budget set aside $1.3 million for a multi-use path on Keewatin
Street near the Logan Avenue underpass, to be completed last summer as part
of a road rehabilitation project.
The path wasn’t built, and it’s not clear where the money went.
In his written statement, Allen said the $1.3 million earmarked for the
path had been “erroneously identified” in both the 2021 capital budget and
the 2015 pedestrian and cycling strategy.
In other words, the city set aside $1.3 million for an active
transportation project — in both its 2015 long-term strategy document and
its 2021 budget — by mistake.
“With that said, a preliminary design study is underway to identify
potential off-road active transportation options, including budget and
scope, to connect Selkirk to Burrows. There will be no re-work required
related to last year’s pavement rehabilitation,” Allen wrote.
Allard said the issue is bigger than just the University Crescent and
Keewatin Street examples. He points to a 2008 council motion and the
council-approved 2015 pedestrian and cycling strategy, which state that
building the city’s active transportation network will be tied to annual
“It was understood at the time that we voted on this, that we would build
the network incrementally. So, piece by piece, the network would be built…
using the road-renewal budget, and eventually we’d have a complete active
transportation network,” Allard said.
“I’ve been voting for budgets — budget after budget — with the
understanding that, despite the very large, record spending on roads, in
the event that roads were identified (by the 2015 strategy), that those
roads would be getting active transportation treatments.”
But he pointed to at least three other cases — on Roblin Boulevard,
Hargrave Street and Day Street — where that work wasn’t done.
“What’s concerning is we’ve got streets which have clearly identified,
prescribed treatments for active transportation, and yet they didn’t
happen. The streets got reconstructed and the active transportation isn’t
there,” he said.
“And I’m concerned and I’m frustrated that despite the budgets, despite the
policies in place, the public service is renewing and rehabilitating these
roads without the required active transportation components.”
Dave Elmore, one of the founding directors of Bike Winnipeg, said the
city’s pedestrian and cycling strategy is not ambitious enough.
“We’re not seeing the kind of funding required to even meet their so-called
award-winning strategy.… They’re simply not following through with the
funding required to make it happen — not even close,” Elmore said.
“The city has indicated that with road renewals, active transportation will
be considered. But it hasn’t always happened. And it’s been disappointing to
Allard said he has requested a report from the public works department
explaining what active transportation projects are planned for this year,
and what projects have not been done in the past — in contravention of the
city’s 2008 and 2015 policies.
The public service was given until September to produce the report.
“If the issue is not council policy, if the issue is not council budgets,
then the issue is with the public service, and the public service
implementing council policy and council budgets as they are written… I have
a number of outstanding questions,” he said.
“There were projects constructed with explicit dollars assigned for active
transportation. It wasn’t built and I don’t know where those monies are at…
In a nutshell: I feel like I didn’t get what I paid for. I didn’t get what
I voted for.”
A request for comment sent to the Winnipeg Association of Public Service
Officers was not responded to by deadline.
Allard said he is hopeful answers will be forthcoming in September. If not,
he said an audit would be the last available avenue to get to the bottom of
what’s been going on.
“Ultimately, I don’t just want answers. I want projects getting built,” he
“I want projects getting built for the budgets we approved and the policies
Mayoral hopeful vows to bus, cycle and walk the climate walk
SHAUN Loney promises to walk, bike, bus or carpool to city hall if he’s
elected to become Winnipeg’s next mayor.
Loney expects the pledge, made Thursday, would allow him to leave most of
the mayor’s $550 monthly transportation allowance unspent.
“In my career working downtown, I have commuted actively or with transit.
In fact, sometimes I skate or canoe, if I’ve got time. It’s my normal
practice, but, primarily, I really want Winnipeggers who want a big-city
transit system, who value active transportation, to know I am their
candidate in this election,” he said.
Loney said he hopes to spend just $50 per month of the allowance to load his
Peggo card to use Winnipeg Transit instead.
However, the current expense policy notes “normal daily travel between home
and the normal work location (i.e. city hall)” is not an eligible expense
for the mayor to claim, since the funding is meant to cover other costs,
such as workday trips, mileage and parking.
Loney said he would cover alternative travel expenses through his
discretionary budget, if needed, while pursuing council changes to the
The social enterprise leader hopes his commitment will highlight the value
of public and active transportation, options he will make future pledges to
“If we’re going to have a big-city public transportation system,
Winnipeggers need to use it because it’s the best option for them... We
want something that people take… because it’s faster, it’s cheaper and it’s
more convenient,” he said.
Over four years, he says reliance on public transportation, instead of a
personal vehicle, could save thousands of dollars that could be used to
purchase bus tickets for clients of non-profit support groups.
That would also require a change to the current mayoral expense policy,
which automatically diverts unspent funds to the city’s general revenues.
Coun. Matt Allard, council’s public works chairman, welcomed the commitment
to rely on greener transportation options to commute to city hall.
“I think initiatives by leaders like that in the community, who are visible
and who are able to promote that message, are good… as someone who is
running for public office, (that example could) encourage other people to
do it,” said Allard.
The St. Boniface councillor said some residents have told him his own
pledge to exclusively commute by Winnipeg Transit throughout January 2018
inspired them to follow suit. Four years later, he remains a regular bus
Seven other mayoral candidates have registered to run for mayor so far,
including Jenny Motkaluk, Don Woodstock, Christopher Clacio, Rick Shone,
Scott Gillingham, Robert-Falcon Ouellette and Idris Ademuyiwa Adelakun.
Mayor Brian Bowman is not running for re-election.
In an email, Gillingham said he frequently rides a bike or bus to work as the
city councillor for St. James.
Woodstock told the Free Press he “strongly supports” biking, walking and
public transportation to get around, and he also owns an electric car.
The remaining candidates could not be reached for comment.
Winnipeggers will elect their next mayor and council on Oct. 26.
Cyclist critically injured after being struck by garbage truck in separate
Winnipeg pedestrian killed in hit, run
A PEDESTRIAN has died and a cyclist is in critical condition after two
collisions in less than six hours on Winnipeg streets.
City police had not yet identified the drivers in either of the apparent
hit-and-runs, nor the woman who died, as of late Wednesday afternoon.
Police said first responders went to the intersection of Henry and Higgins
avenues at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday for a report of a pedestrian collision.
They found a seriously injured woman lying in the road; she later died in
Traffic investigators have not yet identified the victim, police said
Wednesday. She is described as Indigenous, 45 to 55 years old, with a
small, thin build and shoulder-length salt-and-pepper hair.
She was wearing brightly coloured galaxy-print sweatpants and a grey
sweatshirt, with white, pink and yellow New Balance runners. She had “Klyde
love you” tattooed on her right wrist and “Rohdy” in half of a red heart,
as well as a star symbol tattooed on her left forearm.
Police ask anyone with information to call the traffic division at
204-986-7085 or the police non-emergency line at 204-986-6222 after hours.
A heavy police presence remained in the mostly industrial area near the
Canadian Pacific rail yard early Wednesday, as a forensics officer
photographed evidence markers laid out in the street.
Hours later, in the West End, a cyclist was critically injured after he was
struck by a garbage truck.
Police said officers responded to a collision at the intersection of Erin
Street and Sargent Avenue at about 5 a.m. The man, in his 30s, was taken to
Initial investigation indicates the cyclist was struck by the truck, which
then drove off, noting it’s too early to say whether the driver was aware
of the collision, police said.
It’s unclear what company the truck belonged to; traffic investigators are
still seeking to identify it and the driver.
When asked whether the red light camera in the area was operating at the
time of the collision, a City of Winnipeg spokesman would not comment,
instead directing the Free Press to police.
As of mid-Wednesday, the one-way Erin Street remained blocked off to
south-bound traffic, as debris sat strewn across the street.
Two crumpled bicycles, both belonging to the injured cyclist, lay in the
middle of the road, along with clothing.
A forensics officer carrying a camera walked through the scene behind
yellow tape, while other police stood watch in the area, before they packed
the evidence into the back of a van.
“It’s a bad corner, someone’s always running a light,” said Gerald Dudley, 65.
“If you go on the corner over there, you’ll see all the auto parts, there’s
pieces all over the place all the time.”
Dudley, who has lived on nearby Clifton Street for 41 years, said he knows
someone who was recently hit at the intersection while riding their bicycle
by a driver who ran a red light.
Police also asked anyone with information on the Erin Street collision to
call the traffic division.
More city than we can pay for
AS people in Winnipeg emerged from a long, frigid and snowy winter, they
found a city with roads bearing a striking resemblance to the surface of
the moon. This, despite the City of Winnipeg having had its highest road
renewal budget in history for each of the last three years. With drought
followed by flood, freezing followed by thaw, Manitoba gumbo has been
having its way with our city’s roads.
We can’t change the weather, or the soil, and significantly raising taxes
wouldn’t be popular, so how will we ever manage our worsening pothole
problem? There is one straightforward answer — build fewer roads and get
more people to live on the ones we already have. The solution to
is simple math that reads like a Grade 9 pop quiz.
If 10 taxpayers live on a street that is one kilometre long, each one pays
to maintain 100 metres of road. If 10 taxpayers live on a street that is
one and a half kilometres long, each one pays to maintain 150 meters of
road. Every tax dollar being stretched more thinly by lower density means
reduced maintenance and more potholes. It’s a simplistic example, but this
is precisely what has happened in Winnipeg, and in most sprawling North
American cities, over the last 50 years.
Since the 1970s, Winnipeg’s low-density, suburban growth patterns have
resulted in the population increasing by 37 per cent while the built area
of the city has almost doubled. Each taxpayer today is responsible for
about 40 per cent more land area and its corresponding infrastructure.
Looking at infrastructure such as water pipes, according to the city, each
Winnipegger today is responsible for nearly 2.5 times more length of pipe
than they were in the 1940s, 70 per cent more than in the 1970s.
The math is simple. We have built more city than we can pay for, and our
moonscape roads are the result.
Looking deeper, the math doesn’t get better. An excellent source of
information regarding the cost of Winnipeg’s growth can be found at the
Dear Winnipeg Blog (dearwinnipeg.com), written by Michel Durand-Wood. He
found that the replacement cost for all of Winnipeg’s roads is about $17
billion, and if we maintain our current road renewal budgets, again, the
largest in the city’s history, the replacement cycle will be more than 100
The only solution to our infrastructure deficit is to rethink what growth
looks like in Winnipeg and begin embracing higher density and more diverse
residential and commercial development in our existing neighbourhoods.
Locating more development around infrastructure that is already in place,
and less development on the periphery of the city that requires new
infrastructure to be built, is the only way we will ever inch towards
greater economic sustainability.
The infrastructure in most need of replacement, for now, exists in older
neighbourhoods. The combined sewer system is an important example.
Replacing the system is non-negotiable and it will cost billions of dollars
to do. To be most cost-effective, our goal must be to have as many people
as possible using and paying for that new infrastructure, instead of
spending money to replace it while also building new elsewhere. This
example translates to all infrastructure and city services, including
roads, pipes, sewers, fire halls, community centres, libraries, transit,
snow clearing and everything the city pays for. The more taxpayers sharing
the less costly and the better maintained it will be.
By growing our existing neighbourhoods, we will also be investing in our
most productive tax base. Despite being filled with high-value homes, new
suburbs typically generate far less tax revenue than less-affluent
inner-city neighbourhoods because of their lower overall density. Central
neighbourhoods like Wolseley, West Broadway, Spence and Earl Grey generate
between 50 and 80 per cent more taxes per hectare than new suburbs built on
the edge of the city.
Osborne Village generates more than twice as much tax revenue per hectare
than Bridgwater, Whyte Ridge or Island Lakes. This is also true for
commercial development. The single block of Corydon Avenue between Daly and
Cockburn streets is lined with old, nondescript, two- and three-storey
buildings and shops, but its collective assessed tax value is equal to a
Costco in south Winnipeg that uses five times more land area, contributing
significantly to the city’s overall footprint, infrastructure and
Not only does the compact nature of mature neighbourhoods produce more
revenue, but it also significantly reduces the city’s cost to service them.
A study by the Halifax Regional Municipality found that when all
infrastructure and public services are calculated, an average home in a
central neighbourhood costs $1,416 per year to support, compared to $3,462
in a distant suburb.
By embracing density and infill growth, welcoming change in our
neighbourhoods and creating policies that support a more compact urban
form, we can grow our most productive tax base and spend less to service
it. We can complain about soils, weather and construction techniques, but
in the end the severity of our pothole problem comes down to simple math.
The only solution is to change the equation.
*Brent Bellamy is senior design architect for Number Ten Architectural
ST. BONIFACE BIKE ROUTE
THE City of Winnipeg wants the public’s help to select a new active
transportation route between St. Boniface and downtown.
The path would create a link for pedestrians and cyclists to travel between
the Esplanade Riel footbridge/ Provencher Bridge and the multi-use path on
Archibald Street south of Nairn Avenue.
After the first round of public consultations, the city will seek feedback
on three possible route options west of the Seine River and one that runs
east of the river, including:
• West option A: Provencher Boulevard (as a standalone route through the
• West option B: A combination route that serves neighbourhoods both north
and south of Provencher Boulevard with parallel routes on de la Cathedrale
Avenue (south of Provencher Boulevard) and Notre Dame Street (north of
• West option C: A combination route that serves neighbourhoods both north
and south of Provencher with parallel routes on de la Cathedrale (south of
Provencher) and Dumoulin Street (north of Provencher).
• East recommended design: Nadeau Street / Notre Dame Street / La Fleche
Street / La Verendrye Street to connect to Archibald Street.
Winnipeggers can share their thoughts on the proposed routes through a city
survey or at a public event between now and June 14. For information on the
options to provide feedback, visit winnipeg.ca/stbtodowntown.