The second phase of Winnipeg's rapid transit system is one step closer to reality, as a council committee has approved plans for the project after hearing from citizens still concerned about plans to route the corridor through an urban green space.
Members of the infrastructure renewal and public works committee approved a motion recommending that the city proceed with extending the Southwest Transitway from Jubilee Avenue to the University of Manitoba. The corridor currently runs from downtown to Jubilee.
The transitway construction would also include expanding the Jubilee underpass and working on associated land drainage infrastructure.
Councillors on the committee voted in favour of the $590-million plan on Tuesday morning except for St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel, who opposed it.
The rapid transit plan will now move to council's executive policy committee.
Swandel took issue with the corridor's proposed route, which would cut through the Parker Lands and the Beaumont neighbourhood before realigning with Pembina to the university.
He said the city should instead look at moving a rail line along Pembina Highway to route the transitway so it avoids the Parker Lands.
- Deal struck to build southwest rapid transit corridor
- FEATURE | Rapid transit's next phase — the proposed routes
At Tuesday's meeting, Calvin Dueck of the Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee said the proposed "dog leg" through the Parker Lands would destroy the urban wetlands, which he called Winnipeg's "lung."
The city hasn't done the proper environmental assessments for the Parker route, Dueck said, insisting that the route should go through already-developed land.
River Heights-Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow urged the committee to study the Pembina Highway route, while Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck said she wanted a guarantee that the BRT system could someday be converted to light rail.
Concerned resident Jessica Woolford said the impacts of the project should be studied more.
"I don't feel like we should just rush to do this. I feel like we need to take a bit more time," she said.
"Why can't we at least take the time to have a meaningful, useful discussion about what we can actually do? And also, they don't know how they're going to pay for it, anyway."
Among those who expressed support for the BRT plan were members of Bike Winnipeg, a local cycling advocacy group.
Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said the debate over the Parker Lands route is over, and the time to proceed with the transitway work is now.
The future of Winnipeg's rapid transit system has been debated in recent weeks, with Coun. Jeff Browaty demanding a referendum on whether the second phase should go ahead at all, and two other councillors — including Havixbeck — suggesting the city should look at converting the entire system to light rail.
Rapid transit report
Read the city report regarding the Southwest Transitway project that council's infrastructure renewal and public works committee discussed today.
- ON MOBILE? Read the report here.