(Re-printed from the Winnipeg Free Press, April 30, 2012)
Re: Amid hubbub, $300 million in freeways approved (April 26). In approving $300 million of highway extensions of Chief Peguis Trail and William Clement Parkway, Winnipeg city council demonstrated that the only consultations that matter to it are the backroom deals on Main Street.
Winnipeg completed an extensive transportation master plan last fall, which was approved by council. Hundreds of Winnipeggers took part in good faith to create a vision that balances all the transportation demands of all citizens.
By combining financial and environmental sustainability, the master plan set out a path for building a modern, safe and efficient transportation system over the next 25 years, including rapid transit, traditional public transit and highway infrastructure.
While public transit is consistently starved and delayed, council claims to have found nearly a third of a billion dollars to service neighbourhoods that do not yet exist. While the needs of existing neighbourhoods are ignored, imaginary resources are being funnelled into imagined business opportunities.
The saving grace of this week’s decision is that the money council is playing with does not really exist. If ever $300 million does land in the lap of our civic government, let’s hope they see fit to consult with citizens on how it is spent.