Do you want BRT or repaired roads and an end to brown water?
Steeves will fix aging infrastructure instead of building wasteful Bus Rapid Transit
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said today voters must decide whether they want critical infrastructure repaired or a brand new bus route.
“I won’t waste millions on a Bus Rapid Transit system when we have other priorities we must address,” Steeves said. “If you want functioning critical infrastructure we have to have for a city to operate, you need to cast your ballot for me.”
Each dollar spent on BRT is a dollar not spent preventing brown water from Winnipeg’s homes, or invested into rebuilding crumbling roads and sewer lines.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis said she will build Phase 2 of BRT. Steeves said that project will likely cost $1 billion once it is actually built.
Brian Bowman pledged to build five additional legs of BRT. That could cost $6 billion.
Neither Judy nor Brian has said how they will pay for their BRT plans. Taxpayers will be left paying for those BRT plans for the next 30 years.
“If after further reflection, voters decide they want their money spent on Bus Rapid Transit and support higher taxes, I will respect their choice. If voters do not support spending billions of dollars on Bus Rapid Transit and want their streets fixed and clean water in their homes, I would be honoured to have their support, ” Steeves said. “Together we can start Rebuilding Winnipeg.
Taxpayers already face high taxes thanks to Manitoba’s NDP government. They will be squeezed even harder if either Judy Wasylycia-Leis or Brian Bowman is elected mayor. Gord Steeves stands with taxpayers. The choice is clear.
Steeves presents most fiscally-responsible plan for Winnipeg
City needs property-tax freezes, end to Phase 2 of BRT and rebuilding roads
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves cited today the need for property tax freezes, the end of wasteful Phase 2 Bus Rapid Transit plans and fixing broken infrastructure as key policies of his Rebuilding Winnipeg Plan.
“Throughout this mayoral race, I have been honest with Winnipeggers on the need for fiscal responsibility and realistic plans on Rebuilding Winnipeg,” Steeves said. “We need a city that can compete in a global marketplace for business. We need to improve our economy, create jobs and attract more people to live, work and play in our city.”
Steeves said his plan for Winnipeg stands in stark contrast to proposals presented by Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Brian Bowman
Wasylycia-Leis has not said how she will pay for Phase 2 of BRT, but said she will build it. She will incur $400 million in new debt for infrastructure and at least $300 million more in BRT debt. She has pledged to increase property taxes 12 percent. She supported the PST increase.
Bowman has proposed a municipal sales tax of three to four percent, which will drive business away from Winnipeg and makes the city less competitive. Bowman supported the PST increase. He is proposing a property tax increase of 10 percent. He has proposed no new money for infrastructure. He will spend $6 billion on Bus Rapid Transit but has never said how he will pay for that plan.
Steeves recapped his key election promises for voters who will be casting their ballots on Oct. 22, noting there is a clear choice in this election.
BACKGROUNDER — THE GORD STEEVES PLAN
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND ECONOMY
- A property-tax freeze for the entire duration of the next four-year term
- A tourism plan to attract Grand Forks residents to shop in Winnipeg
- Ending poorly-planned Phase 2 of Bus Rapid Transit to save the city more than $225 million
- Improving permitting processes to enable development in a more efficient manner
- Creating more than $200 million for up-front infrastructure spending, with $100 million coming from divesting four city-owned golf courses, $50 million generated from selling the tower and parkade portions of the new police headquarters building, and $40 million coming from a hiring freeze and limits to purchasing goods and services
- Ongoing infrastructure support beyond that $200 million through use of tax increment financing of redeveloped golf course land and putting two percent of property taxes in all new developments into a targeted reserve fund for future infrastructure renewal
- 24/7 road construction protocols where possible, closing roads under repair and using the private sector to build or repair roads instead of the public sector
- Synchronizing traffic lights to enable better traffic flow for everyone
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
- Creation of a Treasury Board to monitor all expenditures greater than $100,000
- Re-creating the Executive Policy Committee Secretariat to the City Council reporting structure
- Changes to the Community Committee decision making process, allowing decisions to be made by city committee rather than by local neighbourhoods
- A fair Photo Radar Enforcement program with safety as the primary focus, lower fines, proper speed limits on roads and improved traffic engineering and amber light cycles
- Use of unmanned aerial vehicles for police work
- Eliminating intersection panhandling
- Changing the mosquito abatement program to enable Winnipeggers to enjoy the summer months outside
- Putting 20 Cadets from the Winnipeg Police Service into the downtown core
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND DOWNTOWN
- Shifting $5 million from the BRT reserve fund to community centres
- Eliminating zoning and permit impediments to ensure the Exchange District can become a more exciting destination for tourists and residents alike.
- Ending the discussion on opening up the Portage Avenue and Main Street intersection to pedestrian traffic
Underground crosswalks will remain at Portage and Main
Risks to pedestrian safety, traffic, and business outweigh nostalgia proposed by Bowman
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said he would not open the Portage Avenue and Main Street intersection to pedestrian traffic.
“If we open the intersection to pedestrian traffic we would destabilize the businesses located in the underground mall at Portage and Main,” Steeves said. “Brian Bowman’s plan to reopen this intersection will keep investors away and does not promote commerce at Winnipeg’s iconic intersection.”
How can Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Brian Bowman spend hundreds of millions of dollars so transit riders on one route can save up to five minutes, then delay transit traffic at the busiest intersection in Winnipeg? Does anyone believe opening the barricades will result in more development at an intersection where there are already skyscrapers on every corner?
“I am open to ideas which concern this intersection, but not if it means opening it up for pedestrian traffic,” Steeves said. “Allowing pedestrians to cross eight to 10 lanes of traffic can only have a negative impact on the tens of thousands of people who travel through the intersection every day.”
The underground crosswalks and mall provide much-needed relief from the cold months we experience between November and March. The pedestrian mall now offers natural traffic to Winnipeg Square, and makes it one of the busiest spots in downtown.
Brian Bowman’s plan to open the barricades at Portage and Main will kill businesses downtown and create pedestrian and traffic safety concerns. Gord Steeves stands for public safety and downtown development.
BRT money is better spent on traffic synchronization
Better traffic flow reduces greenhouse gasses and has a greater return on investment
Synchronizing traffic lights in Winnipeg will reduce traffic jams, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of life for all Winnipeggers, mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said today.
“We can do a lot to make Winnipeg a greater place to live by simply upgrading our traffic lights,” Steeves said. “It will mean less time in our cars and more time enjoying the many amenities this city has to offer.”
Steeves said he would move the remaining funds from the Bus Rapid Transit Reserve Fund so it can be used for traffic light synchronization. City audit reports show for every dollar spent on traffic synchronization, it returns $40 to the community. To most effectively carry out this plan, Winnipeg’s mixture of old and new traffic light technology will need to be upgraded to modern standards.
Under his plan, work would start in the downtown and interior regions first, and would progress throughout the city. Existing traffic light locations will be evaluated to determine ensure traffic signals are located only where they are actually required.
Traffic light cycle times will also be expanded to allow more traffic to flow through intersections in a single cycle. Where Winnipeg light cycles are between 90 and 120 seconds, some jurisdictions have light cycles 60 seconds longer than in Winnipeg. As a result, more traffic moves because more vehicles travel through intersections at the end of a light cycle.
These measures will not only prevent the waste of millions of dollars on an ineffective Bus Rapid Transit system. It will improve flow for the cars, trucks and existing transit bus traffic in Winnipeg.
City must be fiscally responsible and control its spending
Hiring freeze, limiting goods and services purchases, no job losses key to Steeves’ plan
Winnipeg must avoid the fate of the NDP-led provincial government and control its expenses before the city’s budget becomes a crisis, mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said.
“Our city government is growing faster than the city itself is, and that’s not sustainable,” Steeves said. “We need to control our expenses and keep those costs in line with our growth.”
In the last five years, city salaries and benefits have risen more than 20 percent ($32 million/year), but population only grew 5.3 percent while the consumer price index increased only 7.5 percent. In those five years, the number of full-time equivalent positions increased by 580, with 70 of them in non-essential services. A hiring freeze in non-essential positions would save $5.6 million.
Goods and services purchases have grown by $62 million, an equivalent of a 15 percent property tax increase. Goods and services acquisitions should be limited to the consumer price index, which would save another $35 million per year.
With those two measures, another $40 million per year can be put into infrastructure. This $40 million also represents the equivalent of a 10 percent property tax decrease.
Steeves said these savings can be achieved without any job losses or layoffs, through attrition. He will also implement a budget control system requiring all departments prepare monthly payroll reports with actual wages by position, overtime costs and the comparison with the monthly budget. This enables variances to be dealt with promptly.
While a member of Winnipeg City Council, Gord Steeves either froze or lowered property taxes every year for 11 years. He will bring fiscal prudence back to City Hall as mayor.
Steeves plan injects $150 million into infrastructure
Road quality, 24/7 construction, and creating reserve funds key to Rebuilding Winnipeg
Better roads will be built faster and by the private sector under mayoral candidate Gord Steeves’ Rebuilding Winnipeg Infrastructure Plan.
“My plan is the only one which will inject $150 million per year into rebuilding infrastructure,” Steeves said. “I will ensure that money is spent on building quality regional and local streets which are built right the first time so we don’t have to keep going back to make repairs every 10 years.”
By spending $150 million per year on road and other infrastructure renewal, Steeves will increase the city’s current infrastructure renewal budget by 45 percent. By cancelling $600 million to $1 billion in spending for Phase 2 of Bus Rapid Transit, and selling city owned golf courses, Steeves ensures this infrastructure renewal will take place without a property tax increase.
Steeves added projects can be done faster and more efficiently by both closing the road sections being rebuilt and with a 24-hour, seven-day construction work schedule. He also pledged this work would be done by private sector companies. Approving the city’s capital budget in November will ensure this work can be properly planned.
Building roads properly, the first time, will also limit future traffic disruptions caused by road maintenance. Well-built roads lasting 50 years instead of 10 years require less maintenance and over time are cheaper for taxpayers.
There will also be better planning for future infrastructure maintenance. Under the Steeves plan, two percent of the property taxes collected from properties in new developments will be put into a reserve fund to cover the eventual maintenance and renewal of those roads.