Protests from parents and staff at the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association Daycare have effectively cancelled a bus loop planned for Furby Place, forcing university administration to begin consultations for alternative routes.
Parents and staff are opposing the loop, planned to run through Furby Place and Langside Street right beside the daycare, because of the respiratory and safety risks they say it will pose to children.
The loop would attract some 176 transit buses from eight different routes, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.
“Furby Place is supposed to be an idle free zone. We don’t want the increased traffic or people,” said parent Lisa Westhead. “We are proud of going to a daycare with parents who will stand up for their needs.”
The University of Winnipeg is looking to move the current bus loop from Young and Spence Street to make way for an up-and-down ramp to a parkade under its new field house complex on the former site of MacNamara Hall.
The province tied funding to the building by mandating the construction of a parkade, according to University of Winnipeg Students’ Association president Lauren Bosc.
However, parents are dismayed by the lack of consultation by university administration and the city with parents and staff of the daycare, Westhead said.
Though the new route was approved in July, the daycare was not informed of the plans until September, she said.
Jeremy Read, senior executive officer and special advisor to U of W president Lloyd Axworthy, claimed concerns were not raised with the UWSA and therefore the university was unaware of the concerns.
According to Read, university administration consulted with the UWSA and the community renewal corporation.
“The parents were an unidentified stakeholder group,” said Read.
The daycare is a project of the student association, though Bosc maintains there were no direct consultations with parents by the university.
“It is the responsibility of university administration. We were under the impression it was supposed to happen,” Bosc said.
So, who is passing the buck?
Up until now, the focus had been on making adjustments to improving the existing loop, but the plan has now shifted to developing a new location.
“This could cause a redesign of the field house,” said Read.
New consultations through university administration are forthcoming with all stakeholders, he added. The university is looking for a balanced solution that still allows transit access to the west end of the campus.
According to Bosc, the daycare is proposing five new bus routes after consultations with parents.
The goal is for the bus route to have no negative impact on daycare staff or the children, she said, adding that the priority has to be health and safety of users of the daycare.
Published in Volume 67, Number 9 of The Uniter (October 31, 2012)