WINNIPEG, MAN. – The Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (MHCA) is concerned that changes to Winnipeg’s street repair program could hurt its members and the city’s residents.
“Last year, the local street renewal budget was all but gutted by city council, rescued by a last-minute injection of federal funds,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said in a press release.
He added that Winnipeggers need assurance city officials will make good on their promise in last year’s budget talks to put the remaining funds from Ottawa’s $44-million gas-tax revenues to local streets.
“We cannot see another year of a stripped-down street repair program – all Winnipeggers, whether they walk, cycle, ride the bus or drive, see that every time they head out, onto their neighbourhood streets,” said Lorenc.
The MHCA is also worried that council’s decision to include bridge funding in an annual 2 per cent tax, implemented expressly to fund street repairs. The association stated that one year’s worth of bridge work could consume all the new revenue raised annually from the dedicated street repair tax.
MHCA also noted that at the provincial level, Manitoba Infrastructure is progressing on the service-delivery review, which intends to move maintenance work now done by the government to the private sector. The department has consulted the association on proposals.
The MHCA stated that the industry wants to see a plan that is workable, clear in the scope of service and reflects the realities of the risk being assumed by contractors.
“Private operators work in a very tight, competitive environment and must allow for the assumption of risk in any contract,” said Lorenc. “Even after that element of risk is accommodated, we know there is proven value for government using the private sector to do what it does best.”