WINNIPEG – A controversial land deal that could determine the future of rapid transit is a step closer to closing.
Manitoba Hydro has approved the sale of 16 acres of land to the city for $19-million.
The city needs the land to build phase two of rapid transit out to the University of Manitoba.
City council now needs to approve the deal. It will hold a final vote tomorrow.
Some councillors have said the price is too high. The city had originally planned to pay less than $5-million for the land.
Hydro says it “acted in good faith” but felt that initial assessment of the land’s value was too low so it got a second opinion.
“Quite frankly, if anything, we worked hard to find a way to reduce that cost to the city and try to keep it as low as possible,” explains Hydro president and CEO Kelvin Shepherd. “Because we recognized the city had interests there.”
As part of the proposed deal, the city could cut the price tag down to $11.7 million if they transfer road and road rights of way within the parcel of land to Manitoba Hydro within 18 months.
“We worked with the CAO and the COO to negotiate this arrangement,” Shepherd explains. “In my view, when they sign off on it, that’s an acceptance that we worked together and found an arrangement that works for both parties.
The deal must be closed for construction on the rapid transit extension to start this summer as planned.