FROM THE MAYOR'S DESK: BUILDING WINNIPEG FOR THE FUTURE IS BEST DONE BY WORKING TOGETHER

The 2017 provincial budget is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, April 11.

On Tuesday, I will be looking to see that existing provincial infrastructure and operational support for Winnipeg continues in the 2017 provincial budget.

Winnipeg is on track to grow to one million people strong. We need to be building our city for the future and we need a strong and committed provincial partner to support this growth.

Cities, including Winnipeg, cannot do it alone. Rebuilding our city as well as investing in strategic infrastructure that positions our city for steady and strong population growth cannot be achieved without a strong provincial partner.

I do believe we are better together, and that we need to continue working together to build a stronger city for tomorrow!

Together with provincial support, the City of Winnipeg is planning to continue record levels of investments in local and regional road renewal this year totaling $105 million.

In 2016, the City of Winnipeg received $206 million through the provincial Building Manitoba Fund which enabled key investments in road renewal, rapid transit, and recreation infrastructure. Together with other operating support in 2016, the provincial partnership with the City of Winnipeg resulted in over $326 million in support to Manitoba’s largest city.

I will be looking to see this level of support continue when the provincial budget is released next week.

Winnipeg has always been, and continues to be, the major economic engine of this province. We need to work in close partnership with the provincial government to continue growing our city and growing our economy.

Winnipeg and our surrounding municipalities are home to two thirds of Manitoba’s population. Our real GDP was over $37 billion in 2016, and over the long-run is projected to grow by an average annual compound rate of over 2%.

I do want to recognize and commend the provincial government for scrutinizing their expenditures over the last several months and for evaluating provincial spending based on a clear rate of return criteria.

We used a similar approach when we prepared the City of Winnipeg’s 2017 budget, which we balanced without requesting additional financial support from the provincial government.

In this regard, I firmly believe provincial investments in Winnipeg’s infrastructure and services generate a significant positive rate of return and represents money well invested!

I also support recommendations from the Business Council of Manitoba who in its 2017 provincial budget submission recommended that provincial infrastructure investments continue on a timely basis for traditional and community infrastructure.

I agree with the Business Council that these assets and investments contribute significantly to our quality of life, enhance our comparative advantage in attracting and retaining trained workers and professionals, and also contribute to economic activity.

As well, I support the Association of Manitoba Municipalities recommendation that the province invest no less than $1 billion annually in strategic infrastructure.

Municipalities are responsible for building, repairing, and maintaining 60 per cent of infrastructure despite being allowed to collect only eight cents of every tax dollar to get the job done. This underscores how important it is that we have a strong provincial partner!

Over the years, the City of Winnipeg has certainly enjoyed a strong partnership with the province.

I do want to thank them for their significant financial support and for our positive overall working relationship, but I will not stand silent if budgets are balanced on the backs of Winnipeg residents, and at the expense of Winnipeg infrastructure.

By working together, however, it allows us to serve our citizens most effectively, and I look forward to next week’s provincial budget continuing this partnership in order to build a growing, thriving, and prosperous Winnipeg.

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