Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves promises to kill phase two of the city’s rapid transit plans if elected, a dramatic flip from what he said earlier this year.
“I believe building this phase of BRT would be a monumental mistake for our city and would be one we would regret for decades to come,” Steeves said on Friday. “This project could become Winnipeg's Bi-Pole.”
- Coun. Browaty cans rapid transit expansion, wants referendum
- City report lays out plan for Phase 2 of Winnipeg rapid transit
City council has already approved the $600 million project that will see a bus rapid transit line go from Jubilee to the University of Manitoba through the Parker Lands near Pembina Highway.
“If we are to address the issue of infrastructure, there's going to be a lot better ways to address it than, I think, spending the money on a phase that again, in a context of true city building, will do more harm than good,” said Steeves.
Steeves comments come just months after he told CBC he supported building the second phase.
Steeves told CBC, “Someday, the City of Winnipeg is going to need a full light rail system ... I don't think the people of Calgary regret putting in their light rail system. We are going to need that."
Fellow candidates were quick to call Steeves on the apparent flip-flop.
“We don't need someone with these traits running our city. His manipulative 180-degree reversal on this is at best sheer political opportunism,” said Coun. Paula Havixbeck, who is also running for mayor.
Steeves said late Friday the reason for the switch was a BRT report released in June.
"The comments in the CBC story predate the June 23, 2014 city council meeting where the BRT report was passed. The analysis of phase 2 of the BRT plan did not hold up under greater scrutiny,” Steeves wrote in a statement.
Havixbeck and candidate Brian Bowman both support the plan for phase 2 of BRT.
Design work on the project will be completed this year, and the line is projected to be built by 2020.
Winnipeggers go to the polls Oct. 22.