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Province dragging heels on federal infrastructure money for city roads: Bowman

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Winnipeg Rapid Transit Jubilee station.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Winnipeg Rapid Transit Jubilee station.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/10/2017 (1008 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

 

Mayor Brian Bowman is growing impatient awaiting official word from the Pallister government on whether it will support the city's ambitious multi-year road-repair plan.

CITY OF WINNIPEG</p>

CITY OF WINNIPEG

City hall is hoping to secure $182 million in federal infrastructure funding for its proposed 2018-23 regional streets renewal program.

However, it requires that the province make a formal request to Ottawa on its behalf. The plan also calls for $127 million over six years from the provincial government. The city would contribute $237 million over the same period, funded from an annual one per cent property tax increase for regional street renewal.

Bowman said Tuesday while the province has hinted that it will support the city's request, he's seen nothing in writing. And he'd like to be able to budget for next year's civic outlay right now.

"We still don’t have public confirmation from the province that they support having the City of Winnipeg accessing every available dollar under that federal (infrastructure) program," the mayor said.

"This is a program that doesn’t seek additional incremental costs from the provincial government. It is seeking more money from Ottawa for money that is sitting in an account right now. It’s a no-brainer," he said following a news conference at which Ottawa announced matching funds for several civic projects, most of them involving cycling infrastructure.

"The delay (in getting an answer from Broadway) has been too long," he said.

Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton said the province just received the city's "final report" on the matter two weeks ago, and it's currently under review.

"We’re anticipating that review to be completed very soon, very shortly," he told reporters. He said it was not too late to meet federal funding deadlines.

Asked about the city's regional roadwork proposal after Tuesday's news conference at Old Market Square, federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the city and province could apply for federal gas tax funds or to the Building Canada program.

However, he made it clear that Ottawa would not dictate how the funds would be spent.

"We are very clear as a federal government we don’t decide where the funding goes. It’s the local governments that decide where the money goes," he said.

Meanwhile, Bowman said Ottawa seems to be receptive to the city's "accelerated" regional road renewal plan.

"Certainly our discussions with the federal government have been very, very supportive of it. I’ve spoken with the prime minister (about it)," the mayor said Tuesday, adding he would be addressing the issue with Sohi later in the day.

"The No. 1 priority for Winnipeggers is fixing the roads," Bowman said, adding that the city has already prepared a list of roads that would be repaired under the proposed program. He noted the plan has received unanimous support from city council.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

 

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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