MHCA acknowledges it is located on Treaty One land and the homeland of the Metis Nation

Streets budget needs attention, program to see drop in funding in 2023

Winnipeg’s local and regional street renewal program is forecasted to see significant drops in funding in 2023 and beyond, setting up steeper challenges for digging out of the city’s substantial investment deficit in roads and bridges, the MHCA says.

In a letter to City Council’s budget working group this week, MHCA President Chris Lorenc calls upon the group, which includes Mayor Brian Bowman, to work towards establishing a sustained and sustainable long-term investment plan for local and regional street renewal.

The difficulty ahead arises especially from the fact that 2023 is the last year of the accelerated regional street renewal program – financed with matching dollars from the federal New Building Canada Fund and provincial dollars. That will see the combined, forecasted budgets for local and regional streets fall to $136.9 million, a drop of $25 million, in 2023 and then fall again by $16 million, in 2024.

While the end of accelerated regional street program is the latest funding issue to vex the program, the real issue for City Council to grapple with, to reverse the investment deficit, is the fact that the plan proposed in 2013 and 2014 to dig out of deficit has not been followed, the letter notes.

This despite the fact those plans were presented to Winnipeggers to justify the introduction of 2% annual tax hikes, specifically for street renewal.

Decisions that altered revenue generation for L&R street renewal program include:

  • The local street renewal program was to see its revenues from 1% dedicated property tax shift in 2022 to the frontage levy, increased by $1 per foot annually. L&R drew just $2.329 million from $10 million in frontage revenue; the bulk of the revenues have been re-allocated to bridges
  • The L&R street renewal program’s share of the $51.6 million in federal gas tax revenues expended on capital budgets was just $6.721 million (2021); bridges are allocated the bulk of those revenues
  • Bridges became eligible for funding from the 1+1% tax reserves in the 2019 budget discussion
  • L&R street program no longer receives cash to capital (as of 2019)

The letter to the budget working group was also sent to all city councillors.

The budget working group is preparing the draft 2022 Operating and Capital Budget now, for public release and consideration later this fall. The MHCA will be submitting recommendations to the Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works Committee, Executive Policy Committee and speak again to City Council at formal meetings in December.