May 21, 2014 8:40 am

Property tax hike could pay for delayed rapid transit corridor

Winnipeg Transit's expansion of the southwest rapid transit corridor has been pushed back two years.

Tamara Forlanski / Global News

WINNIPEG — Winnipeggers will have to wait a couple years longer than planned to use phase two of the southwest rapid transit corridor, and property taxes could go up to help pay for it.

The extension to the University of Manitoba and a planned widening of the Pembina/Jubilee underpass were supposed to be ready for 2018.

But a new city hall report says the year 2020 is now the target to have the new projects open to the public. Construction won’t be completed until late 2019.

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The report doesn’t identify a specific cause for the delay, simply saying that’s how long construction will now take.

Together, the two projects will cost an estimated $590 million. Funding is still expected to come through from the federal government but the projects will put the city in considerable debt for years.

The report identifies raising property taxes or bumping up transit fares as potential ways to offset the costs and pay the debt.

Any move to raise taxes or bus fares would require approval by city council.

The rapid transit project now includes a noise blocking wall to protect residents in Waverley Heights. St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel had complained about rail lines being moved too close to homes in that area to make room for the transit corridor.

The project also calls for overpasses at Pembina Highway, McGillvray Boulevard and Bishop Grandin Boulevard.

Plans have been axed for a system of sewers and drainage improvements in Fort Garry along Calrossie Boulevard and Cockburn Street.

The city’s public works committee will discuss and debate the new report at a meeting scheduled for June 3.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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