Report details deal for adding flashing amber lights to Winnipeg school zones

By | September 11, 2020

WINNIPEG — A City of Winnipeg report is recommending councillors approve a deal that would see a local business man donate flashing amber lights for school zones.

But the report, outlined in the standing policy committee on property and development, heritage, and downtown development says there will be additional costs to the city.

Chuck Lewis, the owner of Expert Electric, proposed several years ago to donate and install solar-powered amber lights in school zones to make them more visible for motorists.

The city came to an agreement with Lewis in 2019 to go ahead with the plan.

Under the proposed agreement, which still needs to be approved by city council, Expert Electric would donate two lights for each school zone, with the city covering the costs of additional lights required.

Because of the size of some school zones, the report says the city would need to buy another 391 amber lights at a cost of $1.4 million. Each beacon is estimated to cost $3,500. The report says those costs would be referred to the 2024 budget process for consideration.

“The draft agreement attached stipulates 480 units be installed by the donor at a minimum rate of 2 units per month,” the report reads. “At the minimum installation rate per the draft agreement the donor has 20 years Installation and any repairs needed to the lights would be covered by Expert Electric for the first 5 years.

Councillor Kevin Klein, who has pushed for the deal, said he doesn’t believe the cost mentioned in the meeting is accurate.

“That is to add additional beacons if they feel they’re necessary,” he said. “That has nothing to do with the gift and the lights that Mr. Lewis of Expert Electric has been trying to give to the city for the past four years.”

Klein said he is also concerned about another test being required in the report, which he said would delay the installation of the lights between three and six months. The agreement could also be cancelled if the findings of the test are not to the satisfaction of Lewis or the city’s director of public works.

“These are the exact same lights, the same model number that Toronto purchased for the entire City of Toronto three years ago, and they tested them last year in Winnipeg during the October storm, and they worked perfectly,” he said.

“If they want to do another test, that’s fine, Mr. Lewis is fine with it, he knows they work, we all know they work. It just seems to me that we’re now delaying it again.”

The report will be discussed during the committee meeting on September 17.

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