The Manitoba government and the City of Winnipeg have reached a deal on the second phase of the city's rapid transit corridor, from Jubilee Avenue to the University of Manitoba.
They have agreed to chip in $225 million each for the project, which will include a major redevelopment of the Jubilee underpass.
The work is expected to be finished by 2019.
“Each day more and more people are making the move to Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg is expected to reach a population of one million within the next 20 years. The hallmark of any thriving big city is a modern, efficient public transit system," said Premier Greg Selinger.
"Building rapid transit will mean good jobs to get the work done and it will connect families with opportunities across this great city, well into the future.”
Selinger and Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz believe that combining the Pembina-Jubilee underpass work with the rapid transit work will speed up construction on both projects by at least two years and reduce disruption for families and businesses while they are built.
Katz said he's hoping the federal government will kick in $150 million to cover the remainder of the estimated costs for the seven-kilometre stretch of work. Selinger said he's optimistic that will happen.
"There's no question that the federal government is starting to show more interest in good public transportation in other parts of the country. And we fully expect them to treat Manitoba in the same way that they're treating other parts of the country," he said.
"We're looking right now at a $600-million project. We will be putting an application in, asking for the maximum, which is 25 per cent from the federal government, which would be $150 million.
"Do we know today what they're going to do? No, but that's certainly what we're hoping for."
Rapid transit provides faster, more reliable transit service while helping to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions as well as congestion on regional streets, said Katz.
"Today’s announcement for Stage 2 of the Southwest Transitway helps complete the vision of a rapid transit corridor from the downtown to the southwest regions of Winnipeg, substantially increasing the competitiveness of transit for thousands of Winnipeggers," he said.
"With this announcement, the City of Winnipeg will continue its focus on the development of a rapid transit network across Winnipeg with additional projects such as the Eastern Rapid Transit Corridor.”
But not everyone's on board. Calvin Dueck, who is with the Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee, said the proposed route along Parker Avenue will destroy wetlands.
The city hasn't done the proper ridership or environmental assessments for the Parker route, he said, insisting the second leg of rapid transit should go through already-developed land.
"It's never too late [to fight it] until the final bus starts rolling. There's so many ways still that we can use to block the process and we're determined to keep going," Dueck said.