Transit cuts off the table thanks to $1.50/hour parking price hike
Mayor Brian Bowman reverses course as allies amend Winnipeg's 2018 budget
Mayor Brian Bowman has reversed course and taken Winnipeg Transit cuts off the table as his inner circle approved amendments to the city's budget for 2018.
City council's executive policy committee voted Friday to increase on-street parking fees by another 50 cents an hour above the planned $1-per-hour increase in order to raise another $1 million.
The money will remove the need to cut back on transit service on 22 bus routes in 2018, as the first draft of next year's budget proposed.
As a result, streets where parking pay stations currently charge $1 an hour will soon cost $2.50 per hour for parking, while streets where stations now charge $2 an hour will cost $3.50 an hour.
Mayor Brian Bowman said transit riders made their feelings known to the city.
"These certainly weren't changes we wanted to contemplate," Bowman said of the proposed transit service reductions that are no longer on the table. "We've certainly heard on the routes.
"I can say we listened. We're trying to find ways to respond to the concerns that were raised. We obviously can't address all the concerns of transit riders."
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A transit fare hike of 25 cents per ride will still proceed, but the executive policy committee also voted to ask city staff to examine some form of transit subsidy for low-income passengers.
Bowman said he is not sure who would qualify, but Winnipeg Transit staff will examine the idea.
Nonetheless, a transit-hike protest is planned for noon on Monday at city hall.
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The Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone said while it supports higher parking costs as a means of ensuring vehicle turnover, it's concerned about the size of the payment hike.
"It needs to be based on research. It needs to be incremental as well. Typically it's done 25 cents at a time, 50 cents at a time," said CEO Stefano Grande, noting $1.50 is a very large jump.
Other budget amendments include the allocation of $200,000 to repair arson damage in three city parks, $100,000 to improve playground safety in 2018 and setting aside $1.75 million in 2019 to create a new recreation centre in southwest Winnipeg, as South Winnipeg-St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes had requested.
The budget will come before council for a vote on Tuesday.