Not Prioritized – Bishop Grandin Walk-Bike Bridge over Pembina Highway

In May, 2017, the City of Winnipeg hosted a public workshop on the Bishop Grandin Walk Bike Bridge Over Pembina Highway.   This project would address a gap in one of Winnipeg’s most prominent active transportation pathways, and serve several key functions:

  • Connect the Bishop Grandin Greenway across the busy, complex intersection at Pembina and University Crescent at Bishop Grandin
  • Provide a safe walking/biking connection to nearby neighbourhoods, Investors Group Field and the University of Manitoba
  • Enable people from nearby neighborhoods to walk/bike to new Southwest Rapid Transitway Stage 2 stations where secure bike parking will be available.

The Bishop Grandin Walk-Bike Bridge was one of 15 projects (see list below) being considered for Federal Funding (Public Transit Infrastructure Fund).  On September 20, the Additional Infrastructure Projects for 2016 Federal Funding Programs report came forward to the Mayor’s Executive Policy Committee recommending only seven projects be submitted for Federal Transit Funding. The Pembina Highway (Bishop Grandin Boulevard) pedestrian and cycling bridge was not prioritized to be submitted for Federal Funding.  

 

HOW Were Projects Prioritized?

No one knows, but the Mayor and the Executive Policy Committee (EPC). The 15 projects were put through an ‘asset management prioritization model’ and seven projects were selected. This ‘asset management prioritization model’ is a model being developed by the Public Service.

I and other non-EPC Council members requested the Mayor to share the prioritization criteria and weighting which was used with all City Councillors – but we were denied access to this information.   The most in-depth explanation provided to City Councillors came through the media – see the two articles below.

The Bishop Grandin Walk-Bike Bridge over Pembina Highway is a very important bridge that will increase pedestrian and cycling safety. I do believe construction of this bridge will occur in the coming years.

In this so called era of ‘openness and transparency’, I am again disappointed in the limited amount of information being shared with elected members of City Council. Council was told by the Mayor that they will receive a briefing on the ‘asset management prioritization model’ sometime in October, 2017 – AFTER all federal funding requests have been submitted.  Quite frankly, I believe this information should be provided to Council BEFORE any request is made for Federal Funding.

Restricting access to information by the Mayor to all Council members can occur because of the current governance model we operate under. The governance model is termed the ‘Strong Mayor Model’, and this model has not been reviewed in 20 years.  I and others have called for a review to occur.  SEE Calling for a Governance Review.

My thanks to the Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Sun for reporting on this story.


Tory funding freeze scuttled bridge plan, city official says

Pembina pedestrian overpass no longer a priority

 

The Pallister government’s decision to freeze capital funding for Winnipeg at 2016 levels is the main reason why city hall is no longer proceeding with a cycling and pedestrian bridge over Pembina Highway and several smaller Transit projects, a senior civic official says.

Georges Chartier, city hall’s chief asset and project management officer, told the Free Press Tuesday the city submitted an application to the federal government in August 2016 for 15 capital projects — total cost of $53.305 million — on the assumption the city would be responsible for only 25 per cent, with the province contributing 25 per cent and Ottawa 50 per cent.

Supplied photo</p><p>An artist's conception of the proposed cycling and pedestrian bridge over Pembina Highway.</p>
Supplied photo:  An artist’s conception of the proposed cycling and pedestrian bridge over Pembina Highway. 

 

But Chartier said ongoing discussions with Manitoba officials over the spring and summer led city officials to the conclusion the province won’t contribute its traditional 25 per cent share for capital projects. City hall can’t afford to cover 50 per cent of the cost for all 15 projects, Chartier said, adding the decision was taken to do only what it can safely afford: seven projects, at a cost of $34.8 million, to be split 50-50 with the feds.

“Reading between the lines,” Chartier said, the province has hinted strongly that city hall can’t expect to receive any more in capital funding for 2018 than it received in 2016. Capital funding for 2017 was also locked at the 2016 level.

“They haven’t said that definitely, but they’ve hinted at that,” Chartier said. “They’re saying they want to keep the (2018) funding level at 2016 amounts and want us to absorb any increases, but they haven’t come out and told us what the 2018 number is… There is no amount set for 2018, but they’ve kind of indicated don’t plan for anything more than 2016.”

The $12.5-million bike/pedestrian bridge project was thought to be a city priority following the June 2014 death of Richard Stevenson, 69, who was cycling to a Winnipeg Blue Bombers pre-season CFL game when he was struck by a vehicle on Pembina Highway while turning east onto University Crescent.

The bridge also was expected to make it easier for residents on the west side of Pembina Highway to cross the multiple lanes of traffic to get to the University of Manitoba campus and the new rapid Transit station at Investors Group Field.

Construction on the bridge, had it been approved by council, was to have begun in the spring. The bridge would have opened in 2019.

The city originally identified the 15 projects to tap into two new federal funding programs Ottawa announced in the summer on 2016. Chartier said all 15 were lower-priority projects.

The revelation of the list of projects being pruned back to seven is contained in an administrative report for today’s meeting of the executive policy committee. The report has been criticized by some councillors for its lack of clarity in explaining why the eight projects were dropped from the list. Chartier and other civic officials are expected to attend the meeting to provide greater detail.

Chartier said when the city administration was faced with an effective two-year freeze on provincial funding amounts, officials decided to prune the list of 15 projects. Officials opted to reject any project that required borrowing to pay for it.

“Originally, we were going to use debt to fund all these projects,” Chartier said.

“If you could do it with cash, they would survive.”

The cash-only criteria eliminated six of the seven smaller Transit projects, which ranged in price from a low of $150,000 to $1.8 million. The only exception among those projects was the $3.2-million study to review the prioritization of the remaining rapid-transit corridors, which remained on the list and will be conducted using debt financing.

The $12.5-million price tag for the Pembina pedestrian and cycling bridge was too large to absorb on a cash basis, Cartier said, and was dropped solely for that reason. He said it’s uncertain when it will be brought back, but it will be considered in future capital budget planning.

“If the funding were available, we’d like to do it but right now, the financial constraint is limiting what’s possible.”

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca    Read more by Aldo Santin.

SEVEN City projects submitted for federal funding:

  1. $5.6 million: Transcona sewer relief
  2. $5 million: North St. Boniface water main upgrading
  3. $3.2 million: Rapid Transit master plan and prioritization study
  4. $7.2 million: Chief Peguis Trail/Kildonan Settlers Bridge pedestrian and cycling paths
  5. $2.3 million: McDermot Avenue protected bike lanes, Phase 1
  6. $4 million: McDermot Avenue/Bannatyne Avenue protected bike lanes, Phase 2
  7. $7.5 million: Chevrier Boulevard protected bike lanes

EIGHT Cancelled city projects:

  1. $12.5 million: Pembina Highway (Bishop Grandin Boulevard) pedestrian and cycling bridge
  2. $1.805 million: Transit shop equipment upgrade/replacement
  3. $550,000: Transit vehicle purchases
  4. $600,000: Transit rapid overhead doors at wash rack
  5. $200,000: Transit administration building washroom renovation
  6. $150,000: Transit main and secondary water line replacement
  7. $1.3 million: Transit asset management IT solutions
  8. $1.4 million: Transit hoist repair/replacement

— source: City of Winnipeg


Cash crunch critical in capital projects

By , Winnipeg Sun   

 
Senior government funding was a critical factor in selecting the capital priorities council will be asked to pursue next year, while the city’s own assessment criteria hasn’t changed.
 
That’s how Georges Chartier, the city’s chief asset and project management officer, describes the rationale behind a report recommending council not yet pursue a $12.5-million Bishop Grandin Walk Bike Bridge over Pembina Highway or $6 million worth of Winnipeg Transit upgrades.Chartier said critieria for federal funding set in 2016 prohibited existing budgeted projects from applying, so the feds could attract development that wouldn’t otherwise occur.
 
“There was a lot of fairly strong criteria,” Chartier said. “They wanted to help the economy.”A staff report headed to Wednesday’s executive policy committee meeting calls for seven of 15 priority projects for 2018 budget discussions to proceed.
 
Chartier said others originally up for consideration included some proposed to capitalize on a federal funding model that set the provincial and city share at 25% each, with the feds covering the remaining 50%.But after the province announced a municipal funding freeze in its 2017 budget, Chartier said it no longer seems reasonable to expect new and additional provincial cash.
 
If council approves, the city would still pursue $34.8 million worth of new capital projects suited to federal funds, including a $7.2-million Chief Peguis Trail pedestrian and cycling bridge and $13.8 million worth of protected bike lanes.
 
The city’s need to avoid debt also played a role in project priorities, which was one reason the relatively larger Bishop Grandin Walk Bike Bridge isn’t proposed to make the cut, Chartier said.Chartier said city criteria was the final filter used to assess projects, which some councillors complained wasn’t clear in the report. Chartier said that scoring system hasn’t changed since 2015, though, and still prioritizes projects that maintain existing infrastructure, improve infrastructure to meet current standards and serve the greatest number of Winnipeggers.
 
 
 
jpursaga@postmedia.com   Twitter: @pursagawpgsun

 

 

 

twitter:  http://janicelukes.ca/?p=10124