UMGSA to hold referendum on U-Pass

With UMSU preparing its referendum on the U-Pass, the UMGSA council voted to hold its own referendum on the subject during its Jan. 22 meeting.

A motion passed at the meeting set a UMGSA referendum on the subject to be held alongside its general election in March, and the council voted to support continuing enrolment in the program.

According to UMGSA president Carl Neumann, UMGSA policy required the council to vote on the referendum at the Jan. 22 meeting in order to have the referendum during the election period.

“Because of timelines, we kind of have to decide on this now, even though it’s still going to be another month or so before the city actually gives us a final decision on that extension,” said Neumann.

“If we don’t do this now, we basically wouldn’t be able to have a referendum until, at the absolute earliest, April, and then the city will have already passed its budget and we’ll kind of be too late.”

“It’s a weird situation that it’s not yet approved at city hall but already UMSU is off and away and they’re doing this referendum because partly they want the support for the referendum to push city hall to actually finally approve this,” said Neumann.

It was suggested by the executive council that the UMGSA may be able to remain in the U-Pass program even if UMSU decides to exit.

The referendums come after Winnipeg city council recently approved a price increase to the U-Pass of $24.50 per term in order to cover the costs related to the pass’s expansion to Red River College Students’ Association while making the pass financially self-sufficient.

The cost increase would come with no added benefit to students. UMSU previously put forward a U-Pass plan to the city which would see the winter U-Pass — that currently runs from January to April — extended through August for a larger increase.

The UMSU referendum will take the form of a ranked ballot asking students to choose whether they would prefer UMSU’s proposal for an extended winter pass, a smaller increase in the pass’s cost without an extension, or for UMSU to exit the program altogether.

The UMGSA referendum will be similar.

According to Neumann, if the referendum results in support for UMSU’s extension plan but the city decides against agreeing to it, the UMGSA could hold a revised referendum over email.