Winnipeg city councillors battle over underpass projects
Winnipeg — Two Winnipeg city councillors are in a public struggle for funding for competing road construction projects.
They are two of the largest capital projects the city is considering: a proposed underpass at Marion Street and Archibald Street and an underpass at Waverley Street at Taylor Avenue. Both would eliminate lengthy traffic delays at busy railway crossings.
St.Boniface Councillor Matt Allard says the funding in place for Marion St. was set at $5.2 million in last year’s budget This year, the entire project is out of the books. And he’s angry that funding may be going to another project.
“The 2015 capital budget may be robbing St.Boniface to pay for Waverley,” St.Boniface Councillor Matt Allard said Monday.
River Heights-Fort Garry Councillor John Orlikow, meanwhile, started a petition to get funding in place for the Waverley project.
“We have to prioritize,” St. Norbert Councillor Janice Lukes said Monday at the city’s Public Works and Infrastructure committee, which she chairs. Lukes says the Marion St. underpass and three other projects could still proceed as part of Ottawa’s Building Canada Fund but the federal funding isn’t yet in place. Lukes says each ward Councillor will have to fight for funding.
Transcona Councillor Russ Wyatt says the city should borrow the money needed to complete both projects.
“I think there is a way to actually work and find ways to do both. The fact that borrowing rates are so low is a think significant,” Wyatt said.
A plan that didn’t do much to calm Allard over the apparent cancellation of the Marion St. project.
“The fact of the matter is I’m talking real dollars and cents and I’ve seen five million evaporate for the biggest project in the City of Winnipeg,” Allard said.
Mayor Brian Bowman isn’t taking sides on the matter, Stating he will bring both projects to be discussed on the floor of council and in a council seminar
“What I am looking to do is make decisions on the basis of cost benefit analysis is what will make the best bang for the buck for the city with the money available within the city and our federal and provincial partners,” Bowman explained.
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