WINNIPEG — Builders in Manitoba are urging City of Winnipeg officials to rethink their long-term roadbuilding strategies.
The Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (MHCA) stated the size of the investment deficit for local and regional streets is about half the estimated total $6.9 billion (2019) required to bring all city capital assets to good condition.
However, the group said it will still be supporting the city’s 2021 draft budget. MHCA president Chris Lorenc explained the 2021 budget for street renewal, while slightly lower than 2020’s program, has improved against forecasts printed in the 2020 budget.
As well, core infrastructure investment was affirmed this spring, even as council had to slash budgets when the city’s revenues began to dry up due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lorenc said the association wants the city to know that the Winnipeg builders understand the hard work that went in to maintaining this year’s planned street works program. He added the real challenge will be adjusting the long-term strategy so the street renewal program can keep up with a growing population and economic activity.
“City council, over the years, has made a series of decisions that, together, have undermined the funding levels for local and regional streets, such that the original plan – which was the premise for implementing a two per cent annual dedicated tax, eventually shifting to reliance on frontage levies, for road repairs – is no longer recognizable,” Lorenc said.
The group added it was disheartened following a stakeholder meeting with the city public works department, which they believe did little to resolve some challenging issues, including working towards recommendations that support the increased use of recycled concrete aggregate.