Council OKs controversial rapid transit route – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – City council has voted in favour of building the next phase of rapid transit through the Parker wetlands.

That route was highly contested by residents and some councillors because the transit line would run through protected wetlands and some worry about the environmental impact the line could have on wildlife in the area.

The Parker wetlands, just south of Taylor Avenue, currently is Hydro land and a popular dog park, named after former city councillor Brenda Leipsic, that neighbours the Winnipeg Humane Society.

“You’re on the verge of destroying your own colleague’s vision,” said Bill McDonald, executive director of the Humane Society. “I’m sure if Brenda was here today, she’d be in the mayor’s office bending his ear to save the dog park.”

McDonald urged councillors to look at a different option.

“This is the last unique open green space in Winnipeg… If you take this green space away, future residents will question your choice,” he said.

The other option looked at was running the transit line down the Letellier rail line, but it would require moving the rail line closer to homes and moving homes.

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The seven-kilometre, $350-million second-phase line will link the Jubilee Avenue RT station to the University of Manitoba and the new Blue Bomber stadium.

“If we could choose between saving the wetlands or rapid transit, let’s choose rapid transit,” said Harry Wolbert of the Rapid Transit Coalition. “Vote in favour of this route.”

Councillors John Orlikow, Paula Havixbeck, Ross Eadie, Justin Swandel and Harvey Smith voted against the plan.

Councillors Russ Wyatt, Dan Vandal, Thomas Steen, Diva Sharma, Mike Pagtakhan, Brian Mayes, Jenny Gerbasi, Scott Fielding and Jeff Browaty voted in favour of the route.

Environmental and design studies are the next step towards building the line, which won’t be completed until 2018.

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