Manitoba’s Budget 2022 gives the heavy construction industry a meaningful based to build upon, toward longer, multi-year investment plans for the provincial trade transportation network, MHCA President Chris Lorenc said April 13, the day after the budget was released.
“We are happy and hopeful to see some real movement on important investment strategy elements that the MHCA has been advocating, at the provincial level, for years now,” Lorenc said. “I am optimistic that this gives us a strong foundation to push forward, to a new platform on strategic, sustained investment planning.”
Lorenc reiterated his assessment that Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure has presented meaningful increases for the highways, water-control structures and Water Services Board programs in 2022. However, there remain a number of files where work must continue, he said.
“We see here that fully $60 million was carried forward from the 2021 highways capital program budget – that is a significant amount that went unexpended last year. We are glad to see the provincial government embrace our request of fully “carry forward’ of any unspent amounts, but we also recognize the need to work with MTI to ensure the program is fully expended in the budget year.”
That effort will involve work to see the size and scope of projects adjusted, ensuring all elements on the industry are able to engage in bidding.
And, importantly, now that the department is able to present three-year capital plans, the design engineering of more projects will be rolled out earlier – years in advance in some cases – so that MTI can have them “on the shelf” for timely tendering, when program budget surpluses are presented or to suit the department’s strategic priorities.
“All of that advanced planning helps the heavy construction contractors prepare their business plans in advance, knowing what is coming in successive years,” Lorenc added.
The MHCA will be pressing the department to expand its three-year capital plan to five years forward.
“What we saw on April 12 was a marked departure from previous approaches, which have been premised upon annual budget programs – giving the industry very little foresight regarding the work it could expect in the future,” Lorenc explained.
“Much of what we have been advocating for emerged was reflected in the budget.”
Lorenc also noted MHCA will work with MTI to press for construction to start on the Lake Manitoba-Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels project. Construction of the access roads has begun, but the full project still awaits federal environmental approval and completion of consultations with affected First Nations.
To read Budget 2022 click here. MTI infrastructure capital expenditures is on Page 155.