FROM THE MAYOR'S DESK: The Current State of Winnipeg’s Infrastructure

As a Winnipegger, did you know you share in the ownership of about $35 billion in assets?

It’s true!

The City of Winnipeg has compiled two reports on the current state of the city’s infrastructure.

These two reports, a status update and an asset management plan, provide an immense amount of detail about the state of the city’s overall infrastructure.

They outline the condition of existing city assets, their replacement values, and the remaining service life of assets ranging from wading pools, to hockey rinks, to firefighting apparatus, to community centres.

Compiling this level of information, and on this scale, has never been undertaken in the history of the City… ever… until now.

Winnipeg’s population is projected to grow steadily and strongly over the next 25 years.

On average, Winnipeg is projected to grow by 8,200 people each year over the next 25 years.

That’s like adding to Winnipeg the equivalent population of the city of Morden, every year, for 25 years.

With this growth comes growing infrastructure needs.

Planning for this level of growth requires a long-term infrastructure plan to ensure we make the right investments at the right time.

Today, for the first time ever, we have in place an asset management plan that applies a consistent approach to how data is collected and analyzed across the entire portfolio of city-owned assets.

And for the first time, the city is able to strategically categorize asset types and grade their physical condition.

In short, these documents provide Winnipeggers with an immense amount of data on what they own, what it’s worth, how old it is, and what condition it’s in.

For a city projected to grow steadily and strongly in the way Winnipeg is projected to grow, this information is critical for city-wide planning. It’s essential to maximize value from existing city assets. And it helps us invest smarter and more strategically for the future.

These reports also demonstrate we have made progress in chipping away at our infrastructure deficit.

When converted into 2018 dollars, the city’s infrastructure deficit has been reduced by $3 billion – from $9.9 billion in 2009 to $6.9 billion today.

That’s encouraging!

But, at the same time, the size of our infrastructure deficit - $6.9 billion – remains daunting.

There's still more work to do!

The progress we’ve made in reducing our infrastructure deficit is a direct result of a strong, multi-year capital investment blueprint that we update every year in our budget process.

A key part of this investment blueprint is the dedicated annual property tax increase of 1 percent for regional road renewal and 1 percent for local road renewal.

Through these dedicated annual property tax increases, and the priority this Council placed on road renewal, we have managed to make record investments in roads since 2014 culminating with a $116 million investment in 2018, the largest annual investment in roads in the history of our city.

This has made a difference…!

The average $35 to $40 dollars each of us paid in increased property tax since 2014 has contributed to an investment into our road network exceeding $1 billion.

You may be asking yourself, so what?

In 2009, the road deficit was estimated to be $3.3 billion, representing 47% of our city’s overall infrastructure deficit. The City Asset Management Plan released today shows the deficit in the road network has decreased to $1.9 billion, representing 28% of the city’s overall deficit.

That’s a significant reduction.

It represents significant progress for the city’s largest asset.

And it reflects the success of the targeted and focused prioritization and investment we’ve made in the city.

But, again, there’s more work to do. And I will continue to make road investment a priority.

Rebuilding our city and addressing our infrastructure deficit – a city that is the economic engine of the province – is not something the city can do alone.

We need strong partners in our federal and provincial governments.

While we’ve made significant progress reducing the infrastructure deficit for roads, our community services infrastructure – things like arenas, community centres, pools, and wading pools – are trending toward poor and very poor condition. This will not come as a shock to many of us and our families who use these facilities.

And our bridges – while currently safe – today represent 16% of the city’s infrastructure deficit which is a measureable increase from 2009.

Bridge projects, by their nature, are large and expensive.

While we continue to invest in bridge maintenance and safety, bridge replacements are inevitable.

When it comes to replacement, if funded entirely by the city without federal or provincial partners it would, quite simply, cripple our city’s finances.

The City of Winnipeg’s 2018 State of the Infrastructure Report and Asset Management Plan are industry-leading documents providing the most comprehensive information on the city’s infrastructure ever assembled in the history of Winnipeg.

These documents will help guide our decision making, and will help depoliticize the process of rebuilding and investing in our city.

Moving forward, to address the infrastructure deficit, we must maximize our access to federal infrastructure dollars, starting with our long-standing application for our accelerated regional roads program.

We must continue to collaborate with the provincial government for a new, long-term growth oriented, predictable funding model.

And we must continue to listen to industry partners on ways to improve efficiency, as well as research ways to build better and smarter.