Archive for September, 2008

Winnipeg has become our money pit

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Winnipeg has become our money pit
By Ken Waddell


Every household has it’s money pit, that hole that seems to keep swallowing money.
It might be an ill-fated rec room project, a new deck that costs way more than expected or an antique car. One that should only cost a couple of thousand to fix up but instead cost 20 grand before it’s on the road.
Manitoba has it’s money pit and it’s called Winnipeg.
With the re-announcement of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project this past week, Winnipeg is launching out once again on another money pit proposal. BRT is being proposed from the University of Winnipeg to the Forks to the University of Manitoba. From U of W to the Forks it will go on regular existing roads. From the Forks to U of M it will go on a new special road set up for buses only. Someday it could become a rapid rail line, but not now.
There are problems with this proposal.
One is that it only takes about 25 minutes to go by bus from downtown to the U of M now so how much faster will BRT be. At the proposed cost of hundreds of millions and climbing it better be doggone fast.
That might be, but it’s going to be utilizing existing buses. Speed isn’t going to be big factor especially considering it’s city buses and there will be 6 stops along the way.
Even the mayor of Winnipeg and Manitoba’s premier say it isn’t going to take cars off the road. They haven’t obviously been to university lately. A student with a spare or two will want to go home, run some errands or catch a nap, they want their car to get to their part-time job on time, they want their car. And the staff who don’t live close to the proposed BRT will take a car to and from work. The current city streets can’t carry cars, trucks or buses at anything resembling highway speeds, They barely carry traffic safely at city speeds and we’re supposed to believe BRT will work on a mix of new and old roads.
The whole proposal rings out “Money Pit.”
BRT is ill-advised and unaffordable. And worse yet they haven’t got enough money yet for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. Manitoba Hydro is far over budget on their new building and far behind schedule. The Friends of Fort Garry failed to raise enough money to do that project. The Friends of Assiniboine Park are no where near their goal. Then there’s community centres and a stadium… the list goes on.
The City of Winnipeg, Manitoba’s largest water polluter, is single handedly destroying Lake Winnipeg with “nutrients.” Now some peasant folk from the country might have a different name for raw human sewage being flushed into the river.
So why is the mayor doing this. Maybe he has to be like the devout Christian who upon seeing Jesus return desperately asks his friend “What do we do, what do we do?’ The equally disturbed friend says “I don’t know but we better look busy.” Wrong answer! And so is the mayor’s BRT response to his need to look busy.
And why does the premier get involved in this project that he and the mayor admit won’t work? Perhaps it’s to distract attention from his very own constituency which is rampant with the most serious of crimes and that he’s done nothing about it. in 10 years on the job.
The message to the mayor and the premier should be clear. Fix the sewers, fix the water lines and the roads. Shut down the gangs. Quit sucking money out of the province, the federal government and the city and throwing it down the sewer. Flushing more money won’t get the job done. It just adds the stench of the “nutrients”


kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247