In 2013, Winnipeg was awarded the 2017 Canada Summer Games. According to the city, the Games will generate an economic stimulus of $160 million. Yet, the question remains if the city will provide transit service to all events in or near Winnipeg?
The 30,000 anticipated tourists should not have to rent a vehicle in order to attend any event in or near Winnipeg.
In his mandate letter to the Public Works Committee Chairman on Nov. 2, 2016, Mayor Brian Bowman stated that dedicated transit routes to tourist destinations must be implemented. How is that working out, so far?
Let’s take the John Blumberg Complex as an example. It’s owned by the City of Winnipeg and is located just outside the city boundary in Headingley.
Mr. Blumberg was a Winnipeg streetcar motorman. He was also a long time member of Winnipeg City Council. He actually served as Chairman of the Greater Winnipeg Transit Commission at a time when Transit service extended well beyond the boundaries of Winnipeg.
Ironically, there is no regular bus service to the Complex named in his honour. There are plans for Park and Rides for events that will be held at John Blumberg Complex. From the city’s perspective, these plans seem to be adequate..
However, there are no plans for transit service for non ticketed (free) events at Red River Exhibition Park, Southwood Golf Club and Fort Whyte Centre, all located inside city boundaries. Also, no additional bus service is being planned for Birds Hill Park just outside of Winnipeg.
Whether the Games charges for a spectator event should not be used as an excuse for not providing transit service.
Transit users pay for 43% of transit costs. Any other additional transit costs should be considered as part of the $1,294,500 in kind the city grants for services, which Council approved on June 25, 2014.
Winnipeg has a proud history of hosting four Grey Cups, two Pan Am Games, various Curling Championships, and the 1999 World Junior Hockey Championships.
We are very fortunate to be hosting the upcoming Canada Summer Games. Brandon lost the chance to host these games because their swimming pool was too small, while Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo and Sudbury have just been disappointed by losing the chance to host the 2021 Canada Games.
If Winnipeg does not provide proper transit service for this summer’s Games, our good reputation will be diminished.