MHCA profoundly disappointed, alarmed at severe cuts to city roads budget
The City of Winnipeg budget for local and regional road works in 2019 has been cut by $42 million, compared to the city’s forecast released last fall.
The City of Winnipeg says the cut was necessary because the provincial government has flowed less than what was expected in 2018’s road funding, and has not committed to flowing $40 million for 2019, as the city forecasted. The City has written in only $17 million in provincial funding for this year’s streets program, which will go entirely to regional roads.
MHCA President Chris Lorenc said this mess is untenable, and starkly illustrates the need for the City and the Government of Manitoba to sit down and agree on a new funding relationship that sets out reliable, predictable provincial funding. The City must publish five-year forecasts for its future capital budgets, according to provincial law — it can’t do that without predictable provincial funding.
“The Mayor and Council, and Winnipeggers, should not accept this (funding cut) as a new reality. This lack of certainty can’t be the new reality. It’s not a reasonable way to manage,” Lorenc said.
“It hurts all Winnipeggers and especially city ratepayers; it impairs the City’s ability to responsibly manage what is amongst its most important assets — our transportation system.”
Lorenc noted that cuts to investment In city roads will hurt Winnipeg’s economic growth potential — and that will hurt all of Manitoba.
“We call on the provincial government and the city to resolve this dispute over funding commitments. If the city is correct in its interpretation of the funding agreement that ended in 2018, then we call on the province to honour that deal.”
Further, a new agreement, running 2019 to 2024, is foundational to ensuring the city has that certainty in order to plan its capital budget, he stressed.
“Winnipeggers must send the same message to both the city and the province – negotiate a new deal, and a new relationship that allows for certainty and predictability in future roads budgets.”