Transit protesters hoping to see 25-cent fare hike removed from Winnipeg budget

Protesters huddled outside city hall Monday in an attempt to convince councillors to drop a proposed Winnipeg Transit fare hike.

Social Planning Council, Functional Transit Winnipeg say fare hike will hurt city's most vulnerable

Protesters gather outside Winnipeg city hall Monday in hopes city council will find a way to avoid raising transit fares 25 cents. (Wildinette Paul/CBC)

Protesters huddled outside city hall Monday in an attempt to convince councillors to drop a proposed Winnipeg Transit fare hike.

"We're here to urge the city council to not cut service, which we did win on," said Joseph Kornelsen of Functional Transit Winnipeg. "And also to ensure that transit remains affordable. Particularly for those who can afford it least."

About 60 people gathered in front of city hall in hopes that a proposed 25-cent fare hike will be removed during Tuesday's budget deliberations.

"[The 25-cent fare increase] is going to hurt the most marginalized people in our community. We know that," said Kate Kehler of Winnipeg's Social Planning Council. "We're happy they're going to maintain services, but we need them to keep the fare low.

The 2018 budget calls for a 25-cent Winnipeg Transit fare hike. The initial draft of the budget, presented in November, also called for service reductions on up to 22 transit routes.

Council's executive policy committee took those cuts off the table on Friday, when the mayor's inner circle approved a package of budget amendments that called for an additional increase to parking fees instead. Mayor Brian Bowman said hiking the fees would raise the $1 million needed to stave off the service reductions.

The group decided to protest Monday instead of Tuesday because "we actually really want them to listen to us," said Kehler.

City council public works chair Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge) said Winnipeg has little choice but to proceed with the 25-cent transit fare hike, given the end of a provincial agreement to cover half the costs of transit that are not covered by fare revenue.

"We're doing our best to fill the gap," Morantz said Monday at city hall, an hour before the protest was slated to take place. "We've managed to use some of our own resources, but unfortunately the fare increases I think are going to have to be still in place."

Kehler said they still hope for victory Tuesday.

"Then after today we also have to deal with the province and go back to the province and ask them to restore the 50/50 funding."

City council votes on the 2018 budget on Tuesday.


Elisha Dacey

Freelance contributor

Elisha Dacey is a writer and former journalist who previously worked with CBC Manitoba. Her favourite place is outside in her backyard hammock with her dog, a good book and a wilting garden.

With files from Bartley Kives