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MHCA rings alarm on local streets budget for 2020

Public messages on bus backs, radio and social media

The MHCA has launched a media campaign to ensure Winnipeggers are aware the local streets budget may be cut this year, on the heels of severe reductions in 2019.

“We are hoping that Winnipeggers notice amid all the budget discussions that their local streets, again this year, might further decay due to cuts,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said.

Public Works recommended in its presentation to City Council that $36 million be cut from the streets budget 2020-2025, with $4 million out this year alone, followed by $3.4 million in 2021, from the local street repair program. Regional street work would see reductions in 2022 and in 2023, $10 million would be cut. The cuts recommended for the last two years of the 6-year forecast are unallocated.

“This is sliding backwards on a program that was intended to reduce the infrastructure investment deficit and get our streets into good shape,” Lorenc noted.

Last year, City Council cut the local street budget by $40 million in a dispute with the provincial government over non-payment in the last of a five-year roads funding agreement. About $20 million was backfilled when the federal government made a surprise top-up to municipalities in the gas tax revenues that are flowed annually.

The gas-tax top up sent about $44 million to Winnipeg; City Council agreed in Budget 2019 to allot another $20 million to local streets repairs in 2020. The MHCA is concerned that commitment is being watered down as the city grapples with cutting expenses across the departments and programs.

MHCA has sent a call to Winnipeggers and to all industry members to contact their city councilors and Mayor Brian Bowman, and tell them stop the cuts, and ensure the $20 million gas tax top-up goes to local street repairs.