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Mayor to poll provincial leaders on infrastructure funding

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Mayor Sam Katz has sent a letter to all provincial party leaders to ask them how they plan to tackle "the deplorable state" of Winnipeg's infrastructure.

At this morning's city council meeting, Katz said concerns over Winnipeg's shabby sidewalks and bumpy roads have "fallen on deaf ears." He agreed to write a letter to each provincial party leader by the end of the day about the issue after Coun. Russ Wyatt (Transcona) questioned whether Winnipeg needs to rethink how it lobbies the province for more money to devote to infrastructure projects.

The letters were drafted over lunch and have been sent to Premier Greg Selinger, Tory leader Hugh McFadyen and Liberal leader Jon Gerrard. The letter asks leaders for a one point share of the existing provincial sales tax and to clarify their election promises that concern Winnipeg.

It also asks whether the promise to hire more police officers will include funds for salary increases, benefits and pensions.

Katz has asked for a response by Friday.

The letter comes just one day after Katz and the Association of Manitoba Municipalities president Doug Dobrowolski held a news conference to call on provincial election candidates to make infrastructure a top priority.

Winnipeg and Manitoba municipalities have been lobbying hard for a greater share of the PST to put towards roads and transit.

Earlier this year, city council approved a plan to ask the province for a one-point share of the existing seven points of PST to be dedicated to infrastructure funding.

"Why this is being ignored, I have no idea," Katz said this morning on the floor of council.

This morning, city council voted in favour of a plan to spend $15.7 million to repair 27 crumbling streets, seven alleys and one gravel road in 2012.

Public works chairman Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) said Winnipeg needs to spend about $380 million more every year on infrastructure to deal with the deficit. He said city administration consulted every ward councillor about what streets should be made a priority for repair with Winnipeg's limited funds.

He said he's disappointed the issue has not caught the attention of the electorate and the city should see who wins the next election and figure out how to negotiate a better deal for Winnipeg.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 1:56 PM CDT: Adds details, quotes

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