Libraries to stay open Sunday, U-Pass saved after mayor's inner circle makes budget changes
WINNIPEG -- It appears Winnipeg libraries will stay open on Sundays and the U-pass is being saved.
Following 12 hours of delegations at the Mayor’s Executive Policy Committee budget meeting Wednesday, EPC tabled several changes to the four-year budget on Thursday.
“They were effective.” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “For those that think that the budget is cast in stone and we’re not open to change, we were listening.”
Of note, $1.1 million is added so libraries can open on Sundays between September and May. $1.3 million is allocated to restore most of a 50 per cent cut in Leisure Guide programming, and $1.6 million for emergency preparedness. That includes the hiring of two full time equivalent “Business Continuity Officers.”
There is also $500,000 for public art.
The funding will come in part from a cut in the PST.
“I think there should be some credit for our provincial partners on this, ” said Bowman. “The reality is the PST is benefiting us, we’re able to reflect that.”
Students said they were willing to pay more so EPC also passed an amendment to keep the U-Pass going at a rate of $200 per semester. The city says that’s close to half the cost of a regular adult pass.
$3.7 million is now dedicated to the re-development of the West Kildonan Library, funded through gas tax revenue, reserves, and debt.
Based on expectations from the provincial budget, there is also a plan to spend up to $50 million dollars on capital costs for libraries and recreation facilities including splash pads and rinks.
City administrators are being asked to come back in six months with a three-year strategy to invest the money.
There is also a change to explore options to involve a third party to operate the closed Terry Sawchuk arena.
City council has the final budget vote tomorrow.