Mayor says provincial government wants to renege on share of $467M rapid-transit deal

Mayor says provincial government wants to renege on share of $467M rapid-transit deal

Mayor Brian Bowman says the Manitoba government is trying to wriggle out of a commitment to pay for its share of a $467-million project rapid-transit project that’s already underway.

The Progressive Conservative government said Tuesday that the province wants to amend the terms of an agreement to fund the second phase of the Southwest Transitway and widen Pembina Highway below the Jubilee Avenue underpass.

The city and province each agreed to cover $225 million of the tab when the total project cost was estimated to be $587 million. Ottawa agreed to pay for the rest of the project.

The cost of the project was reduced in 2016 after a more detailed design was completed. Now the mayor said the government is attempting a renegotiation and has not provided funds as promised.

“There is a desire by the provincial goverment to create a new agreement to amend the current agreement in a way that is less favourable to the City of Winnipeg and city of Winnipeg taxpayers. Obviously I don’t support that. I’m expecting them to honour the commitment they made,” Bowman said at city hall following an executive policy committee meeting.

Bowman, a non-practicing lawyer, said he expects the province to honour “a fully executed” legal agreement.

“It wasn’t executed by the previous provincial government. It was executed by Minister [Eileen] Clarke and this current provincial government,” he said.

“We expect, especially given the fact we’re currently building the second phase of rapid transit, that that contribution agreement will be honoured.”

Bowman said the dispute with the province involves contingency funds. The mayor said he could not specify the dollar amount in question.

The mayor drew a distinction between this deal and the province’s decision to end a deal to pay for half of Winnipeg Transit’s operating costs that were not covered by fares. The province passed legislation to end that deal, the mayor said.

The provincial government has been asked to comment. 

A report to council’s finance committee this week says the province is behind on a total of $54 million worth of commitments to build municipal infrastructure.

Published at Tue, 13 Feb 2018 13:27:21 -0500