Winnipeg City Council approves 2018 budget, includes bus fare and parking hikes
Published Tuesday, December 12, 2017 11:23AM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 12, 2017 6:55PM CST
Bus fares and parking rates are officially on the rise in Winnipeg.
In an 11 to 5 vote, Winnipeg City Council gave the final approval needed for the 2018 budget.
"This budget builds Winnipeg for the future,” Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said.
It includes a 25 cent fare hike for transit riders, starting in January of 2018.
Anti-poverty groups rallied against the fare increase Monday, and voiced more concerns at council before the vote Tuesday.
"We are here to oppose and continue to oppose the transit hike,” said Social Planning Council of Winnipeg’s Kate Kehler.
Mayor Brian Bowman said the city had to make difficult choices because the province ended a 50/50 funding deal for transit.
"Regarding the transit fare increase is not something anybody is enjoying doing, myself included,” Bowman said.
Cuts in transit service were pulled off the table and there is a plan to study a reduced fare for low-income earners.
However, parking rates are set to go up $1.50 per hour to $3.50 to create more turn-over and help fill holes in the city's bottom line.
"We feel it is ill conceived, that it punishes the good members of the public who choose to support the shops, services and cultural institutions of the Exchange District,” said Exchange District Biz Executive Director David Pensato.
Two failed motions were brought forward to slash both the bus fare and parking rate hikes. One called for an increase to business taxes instead.
"Their employees will be able to get to work in an affordable manner,” said Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski).
The budget also includes more money for transit security and the fight against Dutch elm disease. Funding is now in place for the beginning stages of opening Portage and Main, and the budget earmarks $116 million for road repairs, the most ever.
"If there's a message to Winnipeggers regarding this budget it is this: get ready for a busy construction season,” Bowman said.