Winnipeg’s focus in the next council term must be on growing its economy and this spring’s potholed experience has underscored the roles that well-maintained roads play in moving people to jobs and goods to market.
That was the message the MHCA put on the table at a meeting with mayoral candidate, St. James Coun. Scott Gillingham, this week. Gillingham said he is well aware of the vital role that streets – and therefore the City of Winnipeg’s street renewal program – play in our economy, and in providing good service to all citizens in the city.
“We are sharing our priorities with mayoral candidates, and those who are running for council, starting well in advance of the fall election campaign,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said. Joining Lorenc were senior representatives of the heavy construction industry.
Among the highlighted priorities discussed with Gillingham May 31 were:
- The Manager of Economic Development – a relatively new office at the City – should be at a level equivalent or reporting to the CAO, with the EPC or a Standing Committee assigned oversight of economic growth strategies
- Winnipeg needs a strategic infrastructure plan to help grow the economy, including working with the Capital Region municipalities to attract greater attention from new businesses and corporations looking to locate or expand
- Higher levels of government should be pressed to sign new road renewal agreements; the accelerated regional road agreement signed in 2020 expires in 2023, and the budget forecast shows a significant reduction in the program in that and following years.
- Winnipeg should lead the advocacy for a new fiscal deal for municipalities in order to broaden revenues sourcing and to see a more equitable sharing of tax revenues; municipalities collect just 10% of tax revenues in Canada, yet are owners of more than 50% of public infrastructure
- An update of the funding model for the local and regional streets renewal program must not diminish the need for maintenance and new construction of roads
- Demands for using the street renewal budget to fund other priorities (active transportation, bridges etc.) are rising; City Council must put its mind to creating financing plans and dedicated programs for those priorities as well.
Lorenc said the MHCA provides such briefings to municipal council and mayoral candidates to educate would-be elected officials well in advance of their taking office.
“Councillors, especially new office holders, need the necessary information on high-priority programs and services well in advance of being asked to make budget-setting decisions,” he noted. “These discussions help candidates acquire understanding of the history, demands on and the goals of municipal core services.”
To date, nine Winnipeggers have declared their candidacy for the mayoralty. The 2022 municipal elections will be held October 26.