Winnipeg’s civic election is just over a week away, and many of the candidates seeking the city’s top job have ranked roads, infrastructure and active transportation among their key priorities if elected mayor.
Rick Shone told 680 CJOB’s The Start that he would re-prioritize capital road projects, with a focus on existing roads that are in dire need of repair.
He gave the example Kenaston Boulevard as a heavily-used road in need of some serious TLC.
“It does go into some pretty heavy residential, commercial areas. I’d like to look at a plan that doesn’t necessarily widen Kenaston into a massive freeway.
“Potentially there’s a few other things that we can do where we’re looking at the St. James Bridge and potentially tweaking the flow of traffic a little bit.”
Shone said he wouldn’t consider a property tax hike to go towards roads — at least not in his first year in office, should he be elected.
“Last year, we saw what can happen if we leave our roads to be in disrepair for such a long time, with potholes and things like that,” he said.
“I think we need to make sure were fixing fix our current roads first. But as many people know, I’m a person who’s also a very avid cyclist, so I’m focused on other modes of transportation as well.”
“If we can start to get one per cent, two per cent, five per cent, or 10 per cent of people out of cars for even short trips, then we’ll start to see lower congestion, lower wear and tear on roads — not to mention that travelling in those (active) modes of travel is just a heck of a lot better for your health and your well-being.”
Candidate Rana Bokhari says with the provincial election next year, the city needs to look at different sources of revenue other than raising the property tax to go towards roads.
“I’ve talked about a platform fee — that would bring in a few million dollars. I’ve been talking about how we work with surrounding areas around Winnipeg to ensure that everyone’s paying their part,” she said.
“Right now, Winnipeggers are funding everyone’s infrastructure deficit here.”
Bokhari told 680 CJOB’s The Start that, if elected, she also wants to make investments to ensure Winnipeg is a walkable, bikeable city for those residents who can’t afford to drive.
“It’s going to require significant time and investment and vision to ensure that our city is a walkable and a cycling city as well,” she said, “not only for those who like doing it, but also in terms of accessibility issues, in terms of recognizing that our seniors population is growing … in terms of recognizing that some people just simply can’t afford cars.”
Kevin Klein’s campaign is calling for the city to bring in third-party consultants to create a new infrastructure plan — then take that plan to the other levels of government.
“I want experts to sit down, review our streets, roads, our bridges – everything – and tell us what are our areas of concern, where are the priorities,” he told 680 CJOB’s Connecting Winnipeg.
“The federal and provincial government will start funding cities when they have a priority-based system in place for infrastructure, to say, ‘these roads are at risk, and here’s the report suggesting what needs to be done and how soon.’
“That way we can start triggering more money from the feds and more money from the province, because a tax increase is not going to pay for that type of stuff.”
Klein said he also wants to set more rigid standards for road repair to ensure work gets done before winter and to prevent so many potholes from showing up each spring.
Candidate Shaun Loney say he believes there are some short-term solutions to some of the city’s most pressing transportation issues.
“The feds have already rejected the city’s application twice for widening Kenaston, and they’ve just been rejected a third time as well,” he told 680 CJOB’s Connecting Winnipeg
“So I think we’ve got to be practical and look at ways of addressing traffic that are going to work sooner and get moving as quickly as possible.”
Potential solutions, Loney said, could include reworking intersections, syncing streetlights, and having tow trucks on standby to quickly clear stalls and crashes.
“We think the bottlenecks are at the intersections, so let’s focus on redesigning some of those intersections — widening some of them,” he said, “and better synchronicity with the street lighting.”
Winnipeggers go to the polls Oct. 26.