Why don’t more Grand Forks residents visit Winnipeg?
Winnipeg needs to do more to attract American tourists to the city
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said Winnipeg should be doing more to attract American tourists from North Dakota, particularly Grand Forks. In his first term as Mayor, Steeves will create “Grand Forks Weekend,” to encourage residents from the North Dakota city to travel to Winnipeg to enjoy what our great city has to offer.
“We all know Winnipeggers head to Grand Forks to enjoy shopping trips in the United States,” Steeves said. “I want to ensure Grand Forks residents know they can get the same experience in Winnipeg.”
This weekend could be a time when both the Winnipeg Jets and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have home games. It could also feature a friendly hockey game between the University of North Dakota and the University of Manitoba Bisons.
Steeves pledged the City of Winnipeg could contribute $50,000 towards a campaign, which includes Destination Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, and the Manitoba Hotel Association. Other partners could include the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Assiniboine Park, and stakeholders such as Manitoba’s sport governing bodies and arts groups.
“The point of this exercise is not just to introduce more people to our city, but to even the north-south trade deficit which currently exists between Winnipeg and Grand Forks,” Steeves said. “If this works, or looks promising, we can try it again. This is not a very expensive plan, but I believe it will pay great dividends for our city.”
Steeves added one of the reasons Winnipeggers travel to Grand Forks is to access cheaper air travel options for southern United States cities. Attracting a low-cost airline with similar destinations as Grand Forks offers would also help keep Winnipeg competitive.
Winnipeg can’t afford Brian Bowman in the Mayor’s Office
Bowman supports a damaging municipal sales tax, Bus Rapid Transit, and toll roads
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves called on Brian Bowman to state exactly how he would pay for promises he made during this campaign. To date, Bowman has not costed out his pledges, such as Bus Rapid Transit.
“Brian Bowman has not outlined how he will pay for his Bus Rapid Transit plan,” Steeves said. “So I did, and discovered he will need to raise property taxes between 30 and 35 percent to pay for his plan to complete Bus Rapid Transit.”
Bowman has said he will use dollars generated from development around Bus Rapid Transit legs to pay for the rapid transit expansion. Assuming the average net value of property taxes on new houses is $1,439, Bowman would need to ensure 13,899 new houses are built just to cover the $20 million in borrowing costs for Phase 2 alone.
Phase 1 of BRT was supposed to generate development as well, but the land around the Fort Rouge Rapid Transit Station remains virtually untouched to this day.
Over the past five years, housing starts have ranged from 3,000 to 4,500 for the entire city. How can Bowman promise to pay for Bus Rapid Transit through development dollars along BRT routes when he would need 58,374 new houses to pay for his full Bus Rapid Transit plan?
Bowman has also proposed a new municipal sales tax of three to four percent, on top of the eight percent PST and five percent GST. If he implements that tax, Winnipeggers will pay 17 percent in sales taxes. That hurts Winnipeg businesses and citizens alike.
Bowman has also refused to rule out placing tolls on roads to raise more money for the municipal government. How many toll roads will Bowman build? Will he impose tolls on existing roads? How much will those tolls cost drivers in Winnipeg?
The truth is, Winnipeggers can’t afford Brian Bowman’s unrealistic plans for the city.
By the Numbers
Bus Rapid Transit
• Brian Bowman has said he will not only build Phase 2 but will build four more legs of BRT. The reality is Bowman has already pledged to raise property taxes 12 percent over the course of the four-year mandate if elected mayor. This does not include money for BRT.
• The city’s BRT reports say the cost to borrow the money to build Phase 2 is $20 million per year for 30 years. That represents a five percent property tax increase just to pay for BRT. That assumes there are no cost overruns. If there are, overruns, that property tax increase would have to be higher.
• Bowman has pledged to complete all six legs of BRT by 2030. He also claimed to be able to pay for it through development along those transit corridors.
• A key component of Phase 1 of BRT was development along the corridor. However, there remains a lot of undeveloped land around stations, such as the Fort Rouge Rapid Transit Station. Development along transit corridors is not guaranteed.
• If one uses the average net value of property taxes for new housing ($1,439 per new house), Bowman would need 13,899 new houses to cover a five percent property tax hike required to build Phase 2 alone. If the property tax hike required to cover Phase 2 costs jumps to seven percent, he would need 19,458 new houses.
• Winnipeg’s housing starts over the past five years for the whole city range between 3,000 and 4,700 per year. These five years represent some of the best growth the city has seen in recent memory.
• To complete all six legs of BRT and have it paid for through new development, Bowman would need 58,374 new houses to be built in the city of Winnipeg.
Steeves will bring back Secretariat to promote transparency
Buffer between policy makers and administration prevents undue political influence
A resurrected secretariat at the Executive Policy Committee will promote openness and transparency at City Hall, mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said today.
“I believe it is important to reintroduce a layer between the politicians and the administration to prevent undue political influence at City Hall,” Steeves said. “We need more openness and less political interference on policy development.”
Whether it is called the EPC Secretariat or operates by some other name, the new body should have the powers to review all reports before the committee sees them. Since the EPC Secretariat was disbanded, political influence could be directed at administration before reports were presented to the EPC.
By reintroducing this secretariat, safeguards on whether process was properly followed can be implemented. Any contact with elected officials when reports are being drafted and developed, whether that contact was required or not, would be reported in the interests of openness and transparency. The same safeguard would apply if interested parties outside of the city government were contacted in any way during the preparation of reports for EPC.
Steeves said the new secretariat would move towards an Open Meeting law concept used frequently in the United States. The status of “walk-on” reports and In Camera meetings would also be reviewed in the interests of promoting openness.
Steeves talks about BRT on CJOB
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves appeared on CJOB with Kathy Kennedy to discuss Phase 2 of Bus Rapid Transit. The audio is courtesy of CJOB.
Bus Rapid Transit Phase 2 not worth the risk
Neither Bowman, Wasylycia-Leis can show how they will actually pay for BRT plans
Gord Steeves called on candidates in Winnipeg city council campaigns today to join him in stopping Phase 2 of Bus Rapid Transit. Today, Steeves mailed letters to all council candidates to seek their support to cancel Phase 2 of BRT, and work with him to develop a rapid transit plan which makes sense.
“I can not support Phase 2 of BRT because there is no funding to completely cover the current proposal cost at $600 million, or the higher estimate of $800 million,” Steeves said. “This will be the largest potential expenditure of tax dollars in the city’s history, so I won’t stop asking Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Brian Bowman to show how they will pay for their BRT plans. They haven’t been honest with voters on this issue.”
Bowman’s proposal to complete three phases of BRT by 2030 will cost between $2 billion and $3 billion, as well as two more BRT phases at a cost of $3 billion to $4 billion. He would have to raise property taxes between 30 and 35 percent to cover the $60 to $70 million required each year to cover those costs. He has not said how he will find that money.
Under heavy media scrutiny on Sept. 4, Wasylycia-Leis could not answer the $20 million per year question: How would she pay for BRT? She instead referred to Winnipeg as, “an embarrassing city”, and pledged a 12 percent property tax increase, which does not actually include the five percent property tax hike needed to cover the BRT borrowing costs.
Both Wasylycia-Leis’s inability to explain how she will pay for BRT and Bowman’s billion-dollar BRT boondoggle bear dangerous resemblances to the tax and spend Greg Selinger NDP provincial government. It’s clear with Wasylycia-Leis and Bowman, the only guarantees they can offer are debt and taxes.
Winnipeg’s Oct. 22 election represents a referendum on Bus Rapid Transit. Gord Steeves stands with voters who oppose wasteful spending on a Bus Rapid Transit Phase 2 plan because it does not make sense.
Photo Radar abuses must stop
Steeves backs proper traffic engineering and ending predatory photo radar enforcement
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said today the practice of predatory photo radar enforcement must cease before Winnipeggers lose faith in the program entirely.
“When photo radar was introduced in Winnipeg in 2002, it was done to promote public safety, but the focus has clearly shifted to grabbing cash from unsuspecting drivers,” mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said. “If we don’t make changes soon, the city will face the expense of having to refund fines collected from wrongfully-issued tickets en masse.”
Winnipeg citizens are losing faith in a photo radar system that is clearly unfair for drivers. Enforcement is targeting deficiencies in traffic engineering standards such as the improper setting of speed limits, poor speed limit signage and improper amber light timing at intersections.
There must be signage on both sides of the road when the road is divided by a median, including speed limit signs. That doesn’t happen in Winnipeg, and as a result the photo radar program issues 400 percent more tickets (on a per capita basis) than in other jurisdictions as a result. That’s not fair for drivers.
Winnipeg’s four-second amber lights, set regardless of the speed limit, result in 750 percent more photo radar tickets in 80 km/h speed zones. That’s not fair for drivers
There are known cases where a vehicle can receive two photo radar tickets from stations only several hundred metres apart. That is not a fair enforcement technique and it must stop.
Speed limits are artificially low on some streets, and that is driven by politics not sound policy. When traffic engineers used the nationally recognized standard to recommend the speed limit be raised, politicians ignored their advice. That’s not fair for drivers.
Fines levied through photo radar tickets are 250 percent higher than the average of all other provinces, and then the provincial NDP government doubled them again in construction zones. It is clear photo radar enforcement has become a tax grab. Gord Steeves will ensure photo radar enforcement is fair and promotes safety first.
Steeves chooses community clubs over bad BRT plan
Community Clubs offer key services to neighbourhoods and need our support
Winnipeg’s community clubs will receive as much as $5 million to improve existing and new infrastructure, mayoral candidate Gord Steeves pledged today.
“I would rather invest in our children, families, strong communities and neighbourhoods than in a bad Bus Rapid Transit plan,” Steeves said. “Community centres genuinely improve the lives of residents who live nearby. They offer much needed recreational services, and they build stronger communities.”
Steeves said he would pay for this $5 million pledge by taking that money from the reserve fund in place for Phase 2 of the Bus Rapid Transit plan. There is currently $8.8 million in that reserve fund, which has been in existence since 2008. That fund was created to bridge massive funding shortfalls for the BRT plans.
“The plans for Phase 2 of BRT are underestimated, and will divert people away from Pembina Highway homes and businesses,” Steeves said. “That bad route choice and plan will force city council to raise property taxes five percent. Money is better spent investing in our communities and neighbourhoods across the city.”
Steeves added his community club strategy will include incentives for willing community clubs to consolidate and improve, an emphasis on improving services for seniors and a fair distribution of funding throughout the city. There will also be an attempt to leverage matching funds from other funding sources to further improve community centres.
Steeves to change community committee and land development process
The current process drives away development and creates an “oblong city”
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves today pledged to make sweeping changes to the way land development will happen in Winnipeg’s future.
Gone will be the draconian methods of community committee, which rewards a ‘Not in my Backyard’ syndrome. This will be replaced by a system which re-centralizes control to City Council, so decisions are made in the best interests of the city, not of one small group.
“As it stands now, 15 ward cities develop and applicants begin to know which councilors will stomach development and who will not,” Steeves said. “If a councilor changes within a ward, and the new councilor is more development friendly, then back we go to that area. There needs to be a system where decisions based on vision and principles.”
A new system for public hearings will be implemented which gives the local councilor input at the outset. Then the process shifts to a combined group of council and administration to make the decision based on policy and positive city growth.
“This will ensure our city grows in a way that respects policy but is fair to developers and ALL citizens alike, not just a small group of self-interested opponents of a project,” Steeves said. “This will prevent community committee wars where decisions are made on the fly to the benefit of no one.”
Steeves added this idea came from the city’s Red Tape report, but it was never implemented. That report described our current development process as the most complex in the nation.
Steeves outraged at the path of Photo Enforcement in Winnipeg
Steeves has a strong position on photo enforcement in Construction zones, plans on doing more
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said he is outraged at the current state of affairs with respect to the photo enforcement program in Winnipeg.
“This program began as a modest program that was designed to assist in traffic safety in our city,” said Steeves. “Now, after almost a decade and a half, this program has grown to a level where it is hardly under control and is the creature of two levels of government that do not seem to have any empathy for the citizens that the program is designed to serve.”
The program has grown over the years from one that only included intersection cameras, to an expansion to playgrounds, school zones, construction zones, all supported now by a $21M contract that obligates our city until 2020.
“I deal with people everyday in our community and there is no doubt in my mind that most people have lost faith in this program,” Steeves said. “Even those that support it are now becoming skeptical, I worry that Provincial measures to expand enforcement in construction zones may have had nothing to do with safety and likely may have simply been a method to address budget deficits at the Province.”
Steeves added, unless we are prepared to deal with a complete rejection of this program in our community or several class action lawsuits, we need to get this program under control so it serves its purpose and doesn’t act as a punitive method for simply increasing revenue.
Steeves will be hosting a second press conference on Photo Enforcement next week to be address the City’s uniquely deficient traffic engineering and disregard for the standards employed across Canada. To be specific, determining speed limits, speed reduction signage and amber light timing will be examined. The stretches most deficient in these standards are precisely where enforcement is occurring in Winnipeg. These are engineering corrections that should be corrected immediately rather than advantaged for revenue purposes. To allow this abuse to continue is equal to trading our true safety, for profit. Steeves will invite all members of the media to watch a power point presentation, which will clearly illustrate the need for drastic changes in engineering and the predatory photo enforcement program.
“Along with recent by-law concerns, there is very disturbing evidence that we may not be signing areas appropriately and that we may be focusing on areas that have less to do with safety and more to do with Revenue generation.” Said Steeves, “We need to shine a light on this program and make sure that everything we are doing is focused on safety and nothing else.”
Wasylycia-Leis tied to NDP’s PST hike
She raised the PST once and now pledges to raise percent property tax by at least 12 percent
Winnipeg’s economy will be endangered by a Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP administration at City Hall because of increased property taxes of at least 12 percent, mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said today.
“I have a plan to freeze property taxes,” Steeves said. “But my chief opponent Judy Wasylycia-Leis has promised to raise property taxes by at least 12 percent. She is tied to a provincial NDP government which pledged not to raise the PST, then raised it to eight percent.”
We have now seen the effects of an NDP government at the provincial level. Provincial debt has nearly tripled from $13 billion to $31 billion. The province’s credit rating is in danger of putting the City of Winnipeg’s credit rating in danger. Wasylycia-Leis promised to raise debt when she pushes through the Phase 2 of the Bus Rapid Transit. She has already started down the same road as the NDP.
“We don’t have to guess how a Judy Wasylycia-Leis-led City Hall will fare because the provincial NDP government has already shown that plan to be a financial disaster,” Steeves said. “The NDP even raised taxes on the city government because of the PST increase.”
Judy Wasylycia-Leis was a cabinet minister when the NDP raised the PST in 1987. The PST increase harmed the very people the NDP proclaims to help: the working poor, working families, students and seniors who can least afford to pay higher taxes.More recently, the NDP lied to voters about the idea of raising the PST, first calling it a ridiculous idea before raising it.
Wasylycia-Leis’s campaign staff includes three members of Premier Greg Selinger’s staff. Selinger’s senior staff is running her campaign to ensure that his influence will have a direct impact on the future of the city. Increasing taxes, increasing spending, and increasing debt is the Selinger blueprint. Wasylycia-Leis had a choice to speak out against the PST increase which she knows hurts Manitobans. She didn’t, now we know why. With Selinger’s senior staff advising her, can you trust Judy Wasylycia-Leis to stop at a 12 percent property tax increase?
Gord Steeves has spoken up for Winnipeggers tired of NDP politicians who increase taxes and deliver few, if any results, in return. Why didn’t Judy Wasylycia-Leis speak up for the working poor, young families, students and seniors affected by the PST increase? She didn’t oppose those tax increases because she wants to hike other taxes too.