Winnipeg sends transit cash back to province

The city of Winnipeg has sent $2.2 million back to the province of Manitoba after the two governments were not able to agree on the conditions asked for by the province.

$2.2 million for southwest rapid transit corridor returned to Manitoba government

A progress report on the southwest rapid transit line says Winnipeg "no longer anticipates cost sharing with the Province of Manitoba related to operations and maintenance." (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

Manitoba is getting $2.2 million back from a City of Winnipeg account created to pay for the city's first rapid-transit corridor.

The cash comes from $493 million set aside to complete the Southwest Transitway and widen the Pembina Highway underpass at Jubilee Avenue.

All three levels of government contributed to the project, which was listed as $467 million before debt charges were included. Manitoba has paid four instalments of its share of the cost.

City council finance chair Scott Gillingham said the $2.2-million payback is related to a request from the province to amend the funding agreement for the transit project.

"City administration, including legal services, reviewed the conditions and determined they were not acceptable and so returned the $2.2 million," the St. James councillor wrote in an email to CBC News.

Gillingham would not be more specific about what amendments the province was seeking on the funding agreement.

Through a spokesperson, Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton said the province is still in discussions with the city about amendments to the agreement, pointing to substantial savings made after the contract for construction of the transit corridor was signed.

"The total project cost has dropped by $180 million. The City continues to maintain a $69 million contingency allowance, which is not part of the contract, so it is offside the payment conditions," Wharton said.

The province said the federal government also amended its agreement with the city for the project after the costs dropped.

The city and province have been locked in a dispute over funding for various construction projects, with Mayor Brian Bowman and his officials saying there's a $40-million gap between cash promised and what's been received from the Progressive Conservative government under Premier Brian Pallister.

The rapid transit project is 80 per cent complete, the latest city progress report says. It's slated to be finished in 2020.

Gillingham told CBC News he will ask city staff at an upcoming finance committee meeting for more details about what changes the province requested.

The progress report on the project says Winnipeg "no longer anticipates cost sharing with the Province of Manitoba related to operations and maintenance" of the transit line.


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