The provincial Progressive Conservative government wants to explore the feasibility of using a public-private partnership financing model to upgrade Winnipeg's north end wastewater treatment plant.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister issued a directive to Central Services Minister Reg Helwer to explore the issue with the city and the federal government in a mandate letter released Wednesday.
The P3 delivery model would involve the Canada Infrastructure Bank in financing the estimated $1.8 billion in treatment plant upgrades.
"I am happy to hear the province is thinking about funding for the north end treatment plant," Coun. Cindy Gilroy, chairwoman of the water and waste, riverbank management and the environment committee, said in an email Wednesday.
"The city would be open to exploring all ways we can fund this," said Gilroy, who was not available for an interview.
The first phase of the project (power supply and headworks) has started, and the city has put in a request for funding through Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. It is still waiting to hear back on that funding, she said.
"We are open to any dialogue on this and I know the mayor (Brian Bowman) is planning on responding further tomorrow (Thursday), as he is responsible for intergovernmental affairs."
In letters to each of his 14 cabinet ministers, Pallister has also directed increased highways spending and enhancements to recycling, composting and waste-management systems.
He also directed a monument of Chief Peguis be erected on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building.
The mandate letters, typically three- to four-pages long with directives written mainly in point form, were posted on the government's website Wednesday morning, in advance of the resumption of the legislature that afternoon.
Pallister has instructed the highways budget grow by 14 per cent to $400 million from $350 million over the next four years.
Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler has been directed to work with the Municipal Relations department and municipal officials on a plan to invest an additional $45 million on provincial infrastructure in the coming fiscal year.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen has been tasked with bringing wait times in Manitoba more in line with national standard by maintaining funding for the 1,000 hip and knee surgeries and 2,000 cataract surgeries added in 2018, and boosting capacity for 20,800 more ultrasounds in Winnipeg and 5,000 more in rural Manitoba.
Families Minister Heather Stefanson is mandated to transform Employment and Income Assistance from a "benefit that encourages dependency" to one that provides a short-term bridge to meaningful employment.
She’s directed to put employable Manitobans and young people "on a path of discipline, responsibility, training and jobs" by working with her counterparts in Justice, Economic Development and Training, and private-sector partners.
Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen is directed to lead the development of a comprehensive provincial water management strategy, and to work with First Nations, Métis, landowners, hunters, fishers and anglers to ensure long-term sustainability of hunting, fishing, forestry, and other resources.
Justice Minister Cliff Cullen has been tasked with working with Pedersen to review legislation and enforcement policies relating to on-farm trespassing.
Pallister has also tasked house leader Kelvin Goertzen to work with an all-party legislative committee to ensure Manitoba's independent officers "operate efficiently with transparent and effective outcomes."
Manitoba's independent officers include the chief electoral officer, ombudsman, auditor general and Manitoba advocate for children and youth.
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Updated on Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at 5:32 PM CST: updates story