Winnipeg passes operating budget; libraries, transit see changes

By | March 20, 2020

WINNIPEG — Winnipeg city council has passed the long talked about four-year budget.

The budget passed by an 11 to 3 vote.

The controversy over this budget began back in the fall when departments, facing tight targets, came forward with several recommendations for cuts and closures, many of which never materialized.

The budget holds the line on property tax hikes to 2.33 per cent, revenue earmarked for roads and BRT.

There is also hundreds of millions of dollars for street construction over the next six years.

With the budget approved, it means Waverley West will finally get a fire paramedic station and two halls will merge for a new one in Windsor Park.

Transit riders will see a low-income bus pass implemented and children under 12 will ride for free.

Council also endorsed changes tabled a day earlier at the mayor’s executive policy committee, including restoring the U-Pass for university students, funding for a West Kildonan library and reversing a plan to cut library hours on Sunday.

Most of the proposed cuts to the leisure guide were also restored.

But some cuts remain: all libraries will close weekdays at 8 p.m., community grants are cut by 10 per cent, service on low-volume bus routes is reduced and the Downtown Spirit is gone.

Up until today, delegations flocked to city hall mainly opposed to the service cuts in the budget.

On Friday for the final vote, only four delegations appeared, as people stayed home over the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillors spread out and sat a seat apart and many made references to the pandemic during their budget speeches.

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