Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Millions of dollars from developers has sat in a City of Winnipeg account, some of it untouched for decades.
The future services account includes funds from those asked to pay a share of infrastructure projects that will eventually benefit their sites, a new city report notes. More than 120 of those projects have been completed since the 1970s, but nearly 140 remain unfinished.
Some city councillors are lobbying the city to clearly account for the money.
"I think out of the 44 (projects) that were listed in my ward, 30 of them were still sitting there with money in trust. The money can’t be moved to any other project," said Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood). "So really, (the city has) had an interest-free loan for 40 years."
In other cases, the projects were completed through other funding sources and the money remained in the account. A city report says that money helps "offset inflationary increases" for other projects.
The account balance was $6.9 million on Dec. 31, 2019, which included $1.3 million for completed projects that were paid for by other means, the report says. That leaves $5.6 million available to fund $9.1 million worth of planned projects, the report says.
Those projects could include additions or improvements to roads, trees, sidewalks, boulevards, water mains, traffic signals and street lights, the report notes.
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), council’s former property and development chairman, called on city staff to investigate how the fund was being used, sparking a report that council’s property and development committee is set to discuss Friday.
Mayes is urging the city to speed up outstanding projects that it can afford to do now and set clear parameters to monitor the fund.
"There are millions of dollars sitting there… In many cases we have enough to do the project," he said.
The councillor said one of the unfinished projects he’d like completed as soon as possible is a $4,500 ornamental lighting project on Warrendale Place, for which about $500 was collected in 1976.
Mayes said he understands that not all projects can be completed promptly or cheaply, since some are meant to add finishing touches to major road works that must happen first.
But he questioned why so many of the projects remain incomplete, sometimes for decades.
"Why do we still have (these unfinished) 20 years later, in some cases more than 40 years later?" asked Mayes.
City of Winnipeg spokesman Kalen Qually said the account will be considered during the capital budget process from now on.
"A review of future works and related funding sources will be a regular component of future capital budgeting processes," wrote Qually, in an emailed statement.
Qually noted the city may collect the fees well in advance of a project’s completion because the charges are issued at the time of a development agreement and can’t be collected retroactively.
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.
Updated on Friday, October 16, 2020 at 7:59 AM CDT: Clarifies that reference to "today" means Friday
9:13 AM: Amends headline
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