David Sanders stirs up rapid transit expropriation hearing
The city objected to the former mayoral candidate's appearance at the hearing
Former mayoral candidate David Sanders expressed his concern over the planned route being pursued in phase two of Winnipeg's bus rapid transit (BRT) plan.
Sanders appeared as a witness at the hearing for some residents whose homes risk being expropriated should the plan move forward. Earlier this month the city outlined the 35 properties in the Parker Wetlands that are on the line.
Of those 35 properties,11 owners are contesting the expropriation.
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Sanders said the BRT route considered along the CN Letellier line to the University of Manitoba made more sense in his opinion, and he felt compelled to object publicly to the Parker Wetlands route being selected.
The city's decision to dog-leg the route off Pembina Highway is an expensive mistake, he added.
"The city continues to make decisions which cost money, which are adding to the cost, for pursuing what I believe is the wrong route, which in fact I don't think it's ever going to get built," Sanders said.
He also questioned whether proper environmental assessments have been completed for the route and he also said the cost/benefit analysis available to public on this choice was heavily censored.
The City of Winnipeg's lawyer, Denise Pambrun, objected to Sanders assertion that there was a lack of transparency.
Pambrun wanted Sanders' participation in the hearing to be rejected from the beginning, she said that there was no reason for him to be involved since he was not a property owner in the area. His appearance at the hearing was OK'd by the inquiry officer, George Ulyatt.
"In looking further at what has been proposed I find that the city has been secretive about justification and studies. I've had to go to Access to Information requests to obtain them. Reports I do get are redacted, which means censored. There is no justification for it," Sanders said.
Pambrun cross-examined Sanders on Tuesday afternoon and got him to admit that he was not an engineer and he had not physically walked the proposed dog leg into the Parker Lands area.
She also criticized Sanders's opinion that running the BRT line along the CN Letellier rail line next to Pembina Highway may be a more viable option.
Pambrun suggested that a BRT route on the rail line would mean a huge cost to compensate the rail company and would create a traffic nightmare for drivers crossing the transit route if it is built in that location.
"CN isn't just going to move that rail line just because the city wants it to?" Pambrun asked Sanders.
Sanders admitted that the rail company would have to be compensated.
Pambrun also attacked Sanders's assertion that BRT wouldn't create Transit-Oriented Development. She pointed out that a significant amount of the city's development would come in the southwest quadrant of the city and it would be logical that BRT would part of that growth.
She told the inquiry that Phase 2 of bus rapid transit was only a part of the city's transportation master plan.