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Stimulus projects nearly done

All 112 expected to be completed by March deadline

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/9/2010 (2520 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Clear skies and the good Lord willing, the 112 construction projects in Manitoba that received funding under the Harper government's economic stimulus project will be finished by March 31 next year.

That date is the deadline imposed by the Conservatives when funding will be cut off.

The $9-million renovation to the Manitoba Children’s Museum at The Forks is slated to be done in time for the April 27 reopening.


The $9-million renovation to the Manitoba Children’s Museum at The Forks is slated to be done in time for the April 27 reopening.

In Manitoba, city and provincial officials say most, if not all, projects should be finished as long as the weather holds out and we don't get blasted by an early winter -- and it's too cold to pour concrete.

At the same time this week the federal Tories relaxed their hard line on the deadline.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Ottawa will be fair and reasonable at the end of March if some stimulus projects are nearing completion but not finished.

Transport Minister Chuck Strahl said this week he would have better information about any delays in a week or two.

The 112 projects in Manitoba that qualified for funding under Ottawa's $4-billion Infrastructure Stimulus Fund (ISF) have been on the go over the past year and have seen hundreds of kilometres of highway repaved, sewage plants expanded and new bikeways installed. Projects also include Ottawa's contribution toward building the Youth for Christ's $11.7-million Youth Centre of Excellence at Higgins Avenue and Main Street, the Manitoba Children's Museum's $9-million renovation at The Forks and the $6-million expansion of the Southdale Community Centre.

Youth for Christ's centre is to be open by April 1, the Children's Museum is to open to the public April 27 and Southdale general manager Tom Cardinal said the work on the facility will be finished by March 31.

Manitoba's total share of the ISF pot is $335 million, according to the Canada-Manitoba Infrastructure Secretariat.

The parliamentary budget officer has been independently reviewing the pace of stimulus projects across the country, but its most recent status report is from last March 31, which doesn't capture the summer construction season. At that time, six projects reported 95 per cent completion or better and 98 reported 50 per cent or less. The PBO is expected to update the status of projects soon.

Meanwhile, Manitoba Heavy Construction Association CEO Chris Lorenc said he's unaware of any projects in jeopardy of not meeting the March 31 deadline.

Companies belonging to the association build roads, streets and bridges, do earth-moving and install sewer and water systems among other infrastructure work.

Lorenc, a former Winnipeg city councillor, said it was understandable Ottawa would set a strict project completion deadline. Canada was in a recession and there was pressure to create jobs quickly.

"It forced the construction branches of provincial governments and municipalities to get their acts together to get these projects out to... get people working," he said. "So that had a very positive effect."

But he said he can't imagine that Ottawa will now leave a municipality, province or contractor in the lurch -- particularly if a project is late because of circumstances that are beyond anybody's control.


-- With files from the wire services

Read more by Bruce Owen and Larry Kusch.


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