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.
Wasylycia-Leis’s BRT plan throws Winnipeggers under the bus
She can’t afford Phase 2 unless she raises property taxes more than 12 percent
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said Judy Wasylycia-Leis’s plan for Phase 2 of Bus Rapid Transit can only happen with a property tax hike in excess of 12 percent.
“I do not believe Judy Wasylycia-Leis has fully considered the negative impact Phase 2 of Bus Rapid Transit will have,” Steeves said. “There will be unaccounted costs associated with this project which prevents this plan from being viable.”
Steeves questioned how Bus Rapid Transit can generate dollars through development when much of the Phase 2 through the Parker Lands runs through undevelopable right of ways populated by Manitoba Hydro transmission lines.
Wasylycia-Leis promised to hike property taxes 12 percent before the June 23 BRT report to Winnipeg City Council was made public. She has a responsibility to explain how she will pay for Phase 2 of Bus Rapid Transit. She will have to implement a one-time five percent property tax increase, which will become part of your property tax bill for the next 30 years. This is in addition to her already promised 12 percent property tax increase.
“That’s why I can’t support Phase 2 of BRT,” Steeves said. “This BRT plan forces Winnipeggers deeper into debt because the funding is not in place for this now. Judy Wasylycia-Leis can not complete Phase 2 without a property tax increase much higher than the 12 percent hike she has already promised.”
Gord Steeves has a viable infrastructure renewal plan that includes a property tax freeze. Judy Wasylycia-Leis has a plan to hike property taxes and hurt taxpayers on fixed incomes and young families struggling to make ends meet.
The choice is clear. Do voters want to spend the next four years Rebuilding Winnipeg with Gord Steeves, or paying for property tax hikes greater than 12 percent? Winnipeggers can’t afford to elect Judy Wasylycia-Leis and the NDP to City Hall.
Winnipeg can’t afford the Wasylycia-Leis tax and spend plan
Moody’s ties city’s negative outlook to NDP government on Broadway
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves said the Moody’s Investors Service downgrade of the City of Winnipeg’s debt rating outlook shows how Winnipeg will be worse off with Judy Wasylycia-Leis as mayor. Moody’s indicated the outlook was downgraded because it is tied to debts racked up by the provincial NDP government and its inability to keep spending under control.
“The NDP’s record on taxing Manitobans is not defensible, and if Judy Wasylycia-Leis is elected mayor, you can be assured Winnipeggers will feel that tax pain once again,” Steeves said. “These tax increases will make it nearly impossible for Winnipeg to thrive. It needs to be stopped.”
Wasylycia-Leis has already promised a 12 percent property tax increase. However we can assume she will follow the provincial NDP government’s tax and spend policies. The links between Judy Wasylycia-Leis and the provincial NDP government responsible for record tax increases can no longer be denied. Peter Dalla-Vicenza, a senior policy analyst, has taken leave from his job in Premier Greg Selinger’s office to work on the Wasylycia-Leis campaign team. In other words, Selinger and Wasylycia-Leis are sharing the same staff.
The very people who imposed the largest tax increase on Winnipeggers since Wasylycia-Leis’ record tax increase in 1987 are now working to expand the NDP’s tax and spend regime to City Hall.
These policies could turn the city’s negative outlook into reality. It will cost more for the city to borrow money, which will mean Wasylycia-Leis will have to increase property taxes beyond the 12 percent she has already promised.
The warning signs are clear. Wasylycia-Leis will bring to City Hall an NDP government Winnipeggers can’t afford. She has raised taxes before. She has already said she will do it again.
Choice is clear: Property tax freeze or 12 per cent tax increase?
Steeves offers overtaxed, underserved voters a real choice
Winnipeg voters can finally put a stop to higher taxes by electing Gord Steeves as mayor on Oct. 22. Steeves is the only candidate who has put forward a property tax freeze. Judy Wasylycia-Leis has said she will increase property taxes 12 percent if elected mayor.
“When I was on council, we froze property taxes, yet more than doubled our spending for infrastructure,” Steeves said today. “We did it in an intelligent way which did not hurt ordinary citizens. I will not raise property taxes as mayor.”
The tax increase proposed by Wasylycia-Leis harms young Winnipeggers looking to buy their own home, may make home ownership too costly for seniors, and will drive overtaxed Winnipeggers to neighbouring municipalities.
In 1987, she was an NDP cabinet minister in a government that levied the single-largest tax increase in Manitoba history. She raised taxes 37 percent on ordinary Manitobans in one year. When she was in government, she supported increases to the provincial sales tax. She has raised taxes before, and she has already promised to do it again.
This is the second-straight mayoral election where Wasylycia-Leis has said she will raise property taxes.
Winnipeg’s residents are already among the highest-taxed citizens in Canada. Those who battle to make ends meet will find it even tougher to survive in Winnipeg with Wasylycia-Leis and the NDP in control of City Hall.
Winnipeggers can’t afford more NDP tax and spend policies proposed by Wasylycia-Leis. On Oct. 22, voters can start Rebuilding Winnipeg by voting for Gord Steeves and his plan to freeze property taxes and fix the city’s crumbling infrastructure.
Steeves will ban boulevard begging
Intersection panhandling is dangerous to public safety
Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves today pledged to put an end to panhandling at intersections. As mayor, Steeves will introduce a bylaw to ban panhandling on medians, boulevards and intersections because it is an issue of public safety.
“In San Francisco, 33 percent of the people who give money to panhandlers do so because they are afraid,” Steeves said. “Research also shows money raised through panhandling does not go towards a positive outcome, but into feeding addictions.”
Intersection panhandling also creates dangerous situations where people wander into streets and increase the likelihood of injuries as well as vehicle-pedestrian collisions.
Steeves added numerous people tell me they lock their doors and raise their car windows when a man comes up to their car to ask for money.
“People should not at any time feel they are afraid when driving in this city,” Steeves said. “You should have a right to feel safe in your neighbourhood.”
Steeves noted many of the people panhandling at intersections are in all likelihood able to work but choose to panhandle at intersections for economic reasons. Intersection panhandling causes dangerous conditions for both drivers and panhandlers, and does not promote a positive image for the city. It needs to be stopped.