Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 04/25/2013 12:38 PM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 04/25/2013 1:58 PM | Updates
The mayors of the province’s largest cities presented a united front at Winnipeg’s city hall today to demand that the province provide them with the long-term, reliable funding they need to repair crumbling municipal roads, bridges, sewers and water systems.
Mayor Sam Katz played host to Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, Morden Mayor Ken Wiebe, Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen, Portage la Prairie Mayor Earl Porter, Winkler Mayor Martin Harder, Thompson Mayor Tim Johnston as well as Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) president Doug Dobrowolski. The municipal leaders jointly condemned the province for using a PST hike to fund predominately provincial projects and leaving the funding of municipal infrastructure high and dry.
The Selinger government has unleashed a storm of protest over its decision to raise the PST by a percentage point to eight per cent effective July 1 to fund what it calls "critical infrastructure."
But the province defines infrastructure more broadly to include schools, hospitals and flood fighting as well as roads, bridges, sewer and water works.
The municipalities have long called for the revenue from a percentage point of the PST – about $277 million a year – from the province to be set aside for municipal infrastructure.
"Every municipality in Manitoba is struggling right now," Katz told reporters. "The reality is that as the province of Manitoba makes plans for the future, Manitoba municipalities are being left behind."
The mayors and the AMM said they would be hit hard by the provincial budget as they will now pay more PST on their purchases. For some municipalities without sufficient reserves, this may mean hitting up ratepayers again to avoid running a deficit this year.
In the city of Winnipeg’s case, the additional PST adds up to $1.4 million annually.
A spokeswoman for government Minister Ron Lemieux said Manitoba municipalities currently receive an amount greater than one point of PST for local infrastructure through the Building Manitoba Fund.
"An increase in the PST allows Manitoba to continue to build and improve Manitoba's critical infrastructure needs such as needed flood protection, but also includes revenue that makes building schools like Sage Creek a reality," Naline Rampersad said in an email, referring to Wednesday’s school announcement in southeast Winnipeg.
She said overall, the City of Winnipeg will receive $21.5 million more this year (an increase of 12.5%) for city capital projects. Total capital support to Winnipeg will increase to $194 million.
"All in, including money for operating (costs), support for the City will be $286 million this year for everything from roads, to transit, to libraries," Rampersad said.
Updated on Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 1:58 PM CDT: Adds provincial government's response.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Police officials and board members disagree over police board's authority
RCMP find body of drowned man
Canada's U.S. ambassador pushes for pipeline
Police report drop in violent crime in Winnipeg
US: No link to Russian gov't in plane downing
RCMP hands file in fatal python case to Crown
Four-way tie for 1st at Canadian women's amateur
Glover staffers remove ugly details from Wikipedia
Winnipeg mayor lists Arizona home as a primary residence
Bombers move on from loss
Argentina zoo freezes polar bear move to Canada
Ottawa marchers denounce Middle East violence
Police probing switch of flags on Brooklyn Bridge
Pendant with boy's ashes stolen in Edmonton
Fringe flap gets ugly
11 parents of Nigeria's abducted girls die
Fringe festival on record pace, so far
Motorcycle crash kills Steinbach businessman
Crash survivor drops suit against dead pilot
'Downton Abbey' back on Jan. 4 for season 5
Manitoba Hydro signs power-sale deal with Saskatchewan
Plane crash bodies removed from war zone
Alberta team probes shooting
Proposal to split up California stupid, self-serving
Border agency had outdated lookout flags
Ties that bind
UK announces inquiry for Russian spy death
Manitoba crews heading west to fight forest fires
Goodbye time for Grandma Elm
Nigerian president meets parents of abducted girls
Florida community reeling after cops linked to KKK
Group of Manitoba teachers to visit Juno Beach for educational tour
Gimli Film Festival is a cinephile’s Emerald City
Russians fed conspiracy theories on Ukraine crash
McDonald's profit slips; US sales decline
Canada deports 20 human traffickers
Ryan Adams in town Oct. 12
UN chief believes Gaza fighting will end soon