Mayor says provincial plan leaves questions
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/04/2021 (537 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The 2021-22 Manitoba budget failed to grant two of Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman’s three key wishes — and may fall short on the third.
“I think time will tell what specific grade we can provide this budget because… they haven’t provided the clarity that we would like and expect in a budget,” Bowman said Wednesday.
The mayor had lobbied the province to: give the city $273 million of total operating and capital funding (to match last year’s amount); officially commit to a tri-government Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program request for the first two phases of the north end sewage treatment plant upgrade; and leave $204 million of potential federal funding for Winnipeg Transit in place.
Instead, the province is still calling for Ottawa to divert the Transit cash to “green” projects across Manitoba, and didn’t commit to submitting the official funding request for the $1.8-billion sewage upgrade.
While the province clearly and repeatedly told media Winnipeg will see no decrease to its $273 million of annual provincial funding, Bowman said an official letter confirmed just $224.5 million of that grant.
“There is $48.5 million that is outstanding, that is attributable to (ambulance service),” said Bowman.
The mayor said he’s disappointed by the Transit and sewage plant response.
“If residents are concerned about the health of the rivers and lakes, the delay that has been caused on Broadway should end,” he said.
The sewage plant upgrade’s third and final phase will reduce the algae-promoting nutrients that leave the plant and eventually enter Lake Winnipeg.
The province stressed it is committed to the upgrade and says it will pay $264 million for the first two phases of the project. That includes $182.6 million that already flowed to the city, and $81.5 million the province expects to include in future city capital grants.
Finance Minister Scott Fielding said this marks a clear commitment: “Our No. 1 goal is to make sure that Lake Winnipeg is protected.”
Bowman said the province has only provided written confirmation of $182.6 million of the sewage funding so far.
Meanwhile, Fielding said the Tory government also plans to fund a so-far unspecified number of electric bus purchases for Winnipeg.
The province says other such funding decisions won’t take place until city council approves its Transit master plan.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.