The second phase of Winnipeg’s rapid transit corridor southwest through the Parker and Manitoba Hydro lands to the University of Manitoba received the backing of Mayor Sam Katz’s powerful executive policy committee.
After listening to several delegations against the proposed location of the route during the Wednesday morning meeting, the committee chose to support the Parker route.
“There’s a lot of information that people don’t have access to,” said Katz, referring to some of the opposition to the proposed route through Parker.
“The department made it very clear, the pros and the cons.”
However, Katz said there is still room for discussion.
“I will always maintain an open mind, I actually spoke to one of the delegations, they asked me to look into a few things and I’ve told them I would,” said Katz, who refused to reveal what those “few things” were.
Parker Avenue resident Carla Ens, who spoke in delegation during the meeting and could be seen having a private chat with Katz after adjournment, said she’s extremely disappointed.
“I have a high level of frustration with the outcome,” she told Metro Winnipeg.
“I haven’t lost hope yet, though, it has to go to council and although these decisions have both been made unanimously, I think that there is a willingness to listen and if there is increased pressure, then I think that there is still a chance.”
Ens slammed the report, saying it should be “disregarded” because community feedback was insufficient and it put less weight on factors such as the environment.
Susan Belmonte, a member of the Parker Wetlands Conservation committee, said she believes the committee missed the point with the city’s assertion that there is no room for an active transportation corridor along the Letellier line route.
“They’ve already done active transportation up to a point on Pembina, so they really should just continue that because if they do active transportation going through Parker and down the Hydro lines, I can pretty much guarantee cyclists are not going to go all that way around when they can go straight down Pembina, so using that as a decision-maker of whether they can include active transportation, is not a good (move),” she said.
The plan now moves on to city council for debate.
The city considered several possible routes for the southwest corridor: along Pembina Highway, along the Letellier railway route, and two routes through the Parker lands, ultimately choosing Parker alignment 1B.
In December, Katz announced the city is committing $137.5 million to the project that would link downtown to the University of Manitoba, plus $1.1 million towards the design work.
The city is looking for $75 million from the federal government and a $137.5 million match from the provincial government.
However, a provincial spokesperson said the Manitoba government has committed to funding one-third of the project, which works out to $116.7 million, leaving a $20 million gap that has yet to be resolved.
Why not Letellier?
The case against the Letellier railway line route, according to Dave Wardrop, director of Winnipeg Transit:
- Not enough room for railway, rapid transit and active transportation path
- Transit stations would need to be built, requiring more home expropriations
- Rail line would need to be moved closer to homes