September 24, 2020

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Manitoba municipalities put focus on growth with next government

As Manitoba's 137 municipalities contribute more than $16 billion to the provincial economy and 35 per cent of the total of its gross domestic product, Ralph Groening said it's important they get long-term, predictable funding for continued growth. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)</p>

As Manitoba's 137 municipalities contribute more than $16 billion to the provincial economy and 35 per cent of the total of its gross domestic product, Ralph Groening said it's important they get long-term, predictable funding for continued growth. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/7/2019 (428 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

SELKIRK — The Association of Manitoba Municipalities says it has four priorities in the lead-up to the provincial election and an overarching desire for better partnership with the next government.

"We are, as municipalities, offering to work in collaboration to build Manitoba. We feel our requests are modest. They're reasonable and they're defendable and so we will, with the new government in place... begin discussions to find a way to build Manitoba, to make Manitoba stronger," AMM president Ralph Groening said Tuesday.

The group unveiled its areas of focus at the construction site of a new medical and daycare facility in Selkirk — a municipality that's grown considerably in recent years, thanks to an emphasis on homebuilding, said Mayor Larry Johannson.

As Manitoba's 137 municipalities contribute more than $16 billion to the provincial economy and 35 per cent of the total of its gross domestic product, Groening said it's important they get long-term, predictable funding for continued growth.

The AMM wants to a multi-year partnership program, developed through a memorandum of understanding with the next provincial government, in which funding is tied to a municipality's individual growth — meaning those with booming populations and projects in the works could see more windfall.

The association also wants Manitoba to deliver a provincial sales tax rebate of $25 million to municipalities, which is consistent with the federal rebate of the goods and services tax, Groening said.

The final point is for a pivot to multi-year municipal budgeting from the province, which would help with long-term planning for the smaller governments.

"It would really assist the City of Winnipeg with our predictable funding," said Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James), adding a four-year budget cycle (like the city recently adopted) would be ideal.

"So we know not only in the first year, but in future years, as well — year 2, 3 and 4 — what we can expect from the province of Manitoba as far as funding, both for our operating budget and for our capital budget, also."

Gimli MLA Jeff Wharton, the minister of municipal relations until the writ drops in August, attended the announcement and heard the AMM's asks firsthand.

While Wharton couldn't commit to any promises during the government's self-imposed 90-day communications blackout period, he said the province is open to discussing AMM's ideas.

"We're looking forward to some announcements as we go forward and moving towards the writ, of course. And we will have more information at that time on where we want to go and continued partnerships with AMM," he said.

Manitobans head to the polls Sept. 10. The election writ drop is expected sometime in early August, with an official campaign period set to last between 28 and 34 days.

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

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