'I'm literally embarrassed': Deal to add flashing amber lights to Winnipeg school zones halted
WINNIPEG -- A gift from a local businessman that would have seen flashing amber lights set up in Winnipeg school zones is no more.
Chuck Lewis, the owner of Expert Electric, had offered to donate and install solar-powered amber lights in Winnipeg school zones to make them more visible.
The donation, which has been on the table for several years, was agreed upon by the city and Lewis in 2019.
The agreement would have seen two lights set up in each school zone and the city would cover the costs of any additional lights.
However, on Thursday, after the city's Property and Development committee deferred the decision to accept the lights to the city's Executive Policy Committee, Lewis rescinded his offer.
"It just got too complicated. After their meeting today they just put a whole bunch more barriers up," said Lewis.
He said he had heard that the city was wanting him to pay for the additional lights and that he had no say on where the lights were put.
"I thought that it would be common sense that they would go after the meeting and automatically roll it out," said Lewis. "It's win-win win-win and yet (they) still can't do it."
He added that since he offered up the lights, the cost for him has gone up 30 per cent. He said the longer the city waits, the more expensive it will be for him.
"Then the costs will just get so expensive, it won't be affordable."
Lewis said he feels if the city had agreed to the gift when he first offered he would have around 20 per cent of the schools completed.
"Another four years, we would have 50 per cent of the schools. But because they keep dragging their feet and saying 'Oh, it's going to take so many years'. Of course, it is going to take so many years, because you guys won't let me start."
Kevin Klein, the councillor for Charleswood, Tuxedo and Westwood, said he understands why Lewis took back his offer.
"It's a lot of dysfunction for him. He has been playing this game for four years. It's unfortunate," said Klein. "I'm literally embarrassed for city council."
Klein said from what he has seen and heard, it was council trying to have too much control of a gift.
Despite all the frustration surrounding the project, Lewis said this offer could one day be back on the table.
"If we can get an agreement going that actually makes sense, I want to do it," said Lewis. "The city just keeps finding more ways to block it and more studies."
In an email to CTV News, the city said it had not heard from Lewis on the matter.
"We are looking forward to hearing from Mr. Lewis directly to discuss this matter further," a spokesperson for the city said.