Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's not street renewal

  • Print

A magician manipulates objects such as coins or cards, but the craftiest sleight of hand is sometimes performed by politicians at budget time. The Selinger government, for example, said both urgency and emergency required it to raise the PST by one point. In addition to flood-related costs, failure to raise the tax would have meant the province would be unable to take advantage of new federal infrastructure funds that are available only on a cost-shared basis.

The great projects of the future, in other words, would elude Manitoba like a coin that vanishes without a trace from a magician's hand. But what about municipalities, which also need cash to participate in provincial and federal cost-shared infrastructure programs? Won't they also need millions of dollars in new revenue? Yes, but they won't find it in the budget, which left cities high and dry, despite the illusion they are major beneficiaries of the PST hike. In fact, just $30 million annually of the PST increase has been earmarked for 200 Manitoba municipalities. Winnipeg will receive $14 million for residential streets, compared to $7 million last year. The extra cash is enough to fix a few kilometres of broken street. Roads and other civic infrastructure will continue to deteriorate because cities lack the fiscal capacity to raise the kind of revenue necessary to reverse, or even slow, the trend. Municipalities have long complained it is unfair to expect them to cost-share projects on an equal basis with Ottawa and the provincial government, which have vastly deeper pockets and a wider array of revenue sources. The province, however, has now occupied the tax room that municipalities wanted to solve municipal problems.

The tax increase is really about enabling the province to meet its obligations on flood protection and its ambitions for new schools, personal-care homes and hospitals. Even community rinks, wading pools and splash pads, once the domain of municipalities, will be announced by the government as provincial projects, which will be convenient at election time.

The idea of a sales tax was first proposed by Winnipeg in the 1960s as a way of financing major infrastructure projects, but its pleas for new revenue sources were repeatedly rebuffed.

In recent years, the city, this newspaper and business groups have proposed that a one-point share of the PST be directed to municipal needs. That remains a better idea than the NDP's selfish grab.

The government says new legislation will require it to report annually the funds it spends on municipal infrastructure. It will show hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent in Winnipeg and rural Manitoba -- as is the case currently -- but it won't show that cities are still losing ground on pressing infrastructure issues.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 19, 2013 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Gary Lawless & Ed Tait try not to bleeping cry over the woesome Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060711 Chris Pedersen breeds Monarch butterflies in his back yard in East Selkirk watching as it transforms from the Larva or caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage to an adult Monarch. Here an adult Monarch within an hour of it emerging from the Chrysalis which can be seen underneath it.
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.

View More Gallery Photos


Has the attack on Parliament hill shaken your faith in Canada's ability to protect its citizens from terrorist threats?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google