Winnipeg Metropolitan Region is planning to support its growth by making it easier for people to travel in and across the area. Comprised of 18 communities, including the City of Winnipeg, the Region’s current population of approximately 825,000 is expected to surpass 900,000 by 2023(1). While Winnipeg Transit provides service within the City, there are few options available for those who live further afield. The lack of an integrated public-transit system limits the travel options of residents and visitors, reduces economic potential and increases reliance on automobiles – contributing to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In Manitoba, unlike in many other provinces, towns and cities have few mechanisms to collaborate effectively. As a result, most communities operate independently, although a few share some municipal services. To foster smart growth, and to improve stewardship and governance, the 18 communities around the provincial capital forged a partnership in 1999 now known as Winnipeg Metropolitan Region.
“The leaders in each community recognize that the best way to meet challenges such as climate change and sustainability is to work together,” says Colleen Sklar, Executive Director of Winnipeg Metropolitan Region.
“Improving the efficiency of the transportation network is one important way to help meet these challenges.”
In 2018, the Region launched an initiative to study the feasibility of a public-transit hub on the City’s western border. The initiative qualified for a grant from FCM’s Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program. The study will consider several key factors that are driving change in the area, such as the growth of Centreport, the international transportation and logistics hub that continues to attract large numbers of employers.
“A properly designed public transit system should make it easy for people to commute from home to work and back,” says Colleen Sklar. “That’s not the case today, particularly for those who live west of Winnipeg in communities such as the Rural Municipality of Headingley and nearby First Nations.”
The western edge of Winnipeg is increasingly a hive of economic activity. Already home to a racetrack and the annual Red River Exhibition, the area has attracted many new tenants in recent years, such as a multiplex arena and other commercial developments – including several operated by First Nations.
“This is the first of perhaps four transit hubs that would enable people to travel in and out the Region in a more efficient and environmentally friendly way,” says Colleen Sklar. “The feasibility study will help us find solutions that benefit not only the environment, but also taxpayers and communities.”