EPC approves $334M cycling strategy for Winnipeg, but plan still faces opposition
A controversial cycling strategy is nearing the finish line in Winnipeg, but there is still a hurdle in the way.
The mayor’s inner circle endorsed the $334-million plan to build more paths, but it still needs full council approval, and five councillors are trying to stop it in its tracks.
The mayor and his executive policy committee passed Wednesday a 20-year cycling strategy to build bike and pedestrian paths around Winnipeg, a move health officials said will help reduce health costs and diseases.
But five councillors, Jeff Browaty, Russ Wyatt, Jason Schreyer, Ross Eadie and Shawn Dobson, are rallying against it.
They’ve used $3,500 combined from their ward allowances to pay for two radio ads taking aim at the cycling plan.
Browaty said the plan is full of errors, too pricey and lacks consultation.
"We need to make sure Winnipeggers are aware of what's being considered and to get it right so we have public buy-in,” said Coun. Browaty (North Kildonan).
But the mayor and supporters shot back.
They say people will be consulted when each phase is built, errors will be cleaned up and there is no cost to simply saying yes to this planning document.
"It's disappointing that we're seeing taxpayers' dollars used to mislead and fear monger," said Mayor Bowman.
Cyclists say the strategy will improve safety, especially on roads where no path currently exists.
"You've got to be looking around to avoid a pothole to make sure you don't get taken out as you're avoiding the pothole,” said cyclist Marvin Dyck.
City council will debate the plan next week before councillors go on their summer break.
The second ad from the five councillors opposed had to do with one of the more controversial portions of the lengthy document.
Buried in the details is a line that suggests the city may want to consider making homeowners shovel their own sidewalks in the winter, which is a sticking point for the five councillors opposed.
But the mayor says it's just a recommendation and they city is not going to change its snow clearing policy.
- with a report from Jeff Keele