Oops, forgot the environmental assessment

For a day or so, it almost looked as if there was a plan for the second leg of Winnipeg’s bus rapid transit system. The system, which was conceived in the early 1970s (or earlier, depending how you date it) took concrete form as the first leg of of a line connecting the centre of the city with the University of Manitoba, 12 kilometres to the southwest. Click here for map  (The line ends after the bus leaves the Fort Rouge station.)

After the first line was completed, it seemed to be taking the city forever to finalise the plans for the second leg. Finally, last Saturday, the Winnipeg Free Press reported that Winnipeg Transit had decided on a route through an open field called the Parker Lands. However, three days later, it became obvious that funding for the line had not yet been secured. And then, this morning’s news made it clear that unresolved issues remained regarding possible traffic congestion, housing that would have to be expropriated for the route, and that – by the way – there were also issues regarding wetlands, forested and other natural areas, and wildlife.

In short, almost nothing has been done to prepare for this project, beyond a bare-bones administrative report. (News reports referred to a 107-page report, but repeated efforts by me and by others on my behalf failed to produce the alleged document – even though, if it exists, it should be publicly available.) In any event, the thinking behind the administrative report is, apparently, that City Council will be asked to give the go-ahead to a major project:

  • For which funding has not been secured,
  • That raises unresolved issues regarding the expropriation of homes, as well as traffic congestion, and
  • That raises a thicket of issues regarding wetlands, pristine forested areas, and wildlife.

Mayor Katz has made it clear that he has little time for the planning department, reducing it to an advisory agency for developers. The implementation of the second half of the first leg of rapid transit offers a concrete example of what happens when we don’t plan. Even those who consider environmental assessments to be nothing more than make-work for unemployed social science graduates should be alarmed at a transportation project that lacks secure funding, has not given due consideration to congestion issues, and breezes unconcernedly past the potential legal and political issues attendant upon the expropriation of homes.

6 responses to “Oops, forgot the environmental assessment

  1. Strange littlePrairie town , when a straight line is required and exists, they opt to do a 3 kilometer oopsydoopsy.

    Perhaps they should just give up on the Rapid part of the equation.

  2. Here is the link to the consultants report. It is on the city website:
    http://winnipegtransit.com/assets/932/Final_Report_-_SWRTC_Stage_2_Alignment_Options-web.pdf

    I would point out that we do need to decide on an alignment to secure the funding as otherwise we don’t know enough about the scope of the project. It would be great if all the planning could be done ahead of that but that isn’t always realistic. The basic decision about the alignment needs to be made now and then the other questions can be dealt with when we undergo the detailed design and an area plan, How many more years can we wait to complete this Rapid Transit corridor?..It has been over 30 years in the making.

  3. Also wanted to add in response to another commenter here. The straight line sounds logical..but when you look at the huge number of intersections going that way it ends up slowing it right down and it isn’t rapid. The recommended route is as fast as going straight because of this. Also the straight line will NOT allow for active transportation which is hugely important as there is not enough space for it . The proposed alignment is supported by a lot of people who are very well informed and true believers in rapid transit for Winnipeg. A lot of things that go on at city hall are wrong-headed so it is understandable that people would assume that…but please take the time to read the report and get well informed before assuming the worst.

  4. I think going through the Parker lands in a huge mistake. It is a wetland.

    The streets being crossed in the straight line are residential with a railway crossing now – Macgillvary, Clarence and Chevriere might need a bit more. A simple stop sign or yield is all that is required to control traffic. If possible maybe the buses could signal ahead that they are coming and flash a light at the intersection or something.

    Those are not good reasons for the detour.

  5. Would you consider attending or even speaking at a Parker / Mayfair community meeting being held Wednesday at 7:00 at the Fort Garry Community Centre (80 Derek Street). It is sponsored by the Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee and we’ll be discussing environmental impact as well as a number of other pertinent issues. Also- check out our very young facebook page (search parker wetlands) and spread the word.

  6. It appears that Ms Gerbassi has not done her home work. The city just spent millions on active transportion along a good length of Pembina. There is no need to duplicate it on The Letellier Line. When that is factored in the Parker route may well end up costing a lot more.

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