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Winnipeg's first infrastructure plan consolidates next decade’s needs

Jean Sorensen
Winnipeg's first infrastructure plan consolidates next decade’s needs

The City of Winnipeg has released its first infrastructure plan, a document which prioritizes billions of dollars of needed new infrastructure to sustain the city’s service levels over the next decade.

“We have an $11 billion infrastructure deficit,” said George Chartier, chief assets and project manager for Winnipeg’s Infrastructure Planning Office.

Of that figure, he said, $4 billion worth of projects have found funding but $6.9 billion of funding is still needed. Chartier said that the large deficit of infrastructure needs is not unusual for a major Canadian city. Winnipeg’s population is projected to grow by 922,000 in 20 years, according to city statistics.

What is different for Winnipeg in this plan is that it consolidated all those needs into one report, set priorities and projected start dates.

Previously, the various city departments had each been working on establishing their own needs and placing them before council, making it difficult to determine what were the most strategic capital cost projects to proceed with.

The newly-released infrastructure plan breaks the $11 billion figure down to 45 projects, each valued at over $5 million. They represent approximately half of the infrastructure deficit; the other half consists of smaller projects under $5 million and not dealt with in the report.  

The new Infrastructure Plan rates projects from vital (wastewater, medical and emergency services) to desired (beautification and arts) with transportation at midpoint. 

Chartier said that although the document itemizes the 45 projects that should go forward “that can change year by year” as need and funding will impact projects. The projects are mainly unfunded yet, although some have been put forward for grants.

Some projects have already started such as the $1.8 billion North End Sewage Treatment Plant, known as the North End Water Pollution Control Center upgrade, which handles 70 per cent of the city’s sewage. The first phase which is a $408 million power supply upgrade is has approval and funding. The second phase, which will turn wastewater into sewage into bio-solids is projected to cost $553 million and is at the top end of the Infrastructure Plan list with the project submitted to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The project has been approved by council, subject to funding from levels of government. The time line for detailed drawings and construction is 2021. The third phase, which involves nutrient removal in order to meet restrictions on channeling water in to Lake Winnipeg, is an $828 million upgrade that has yet to receive funding or approval but estimated final drawings and construction is given as is in 2023.

The year 2023 is also projected as the year the city would need to start expanding its rapid transit corridors with an estimated cost of $994 million to meet demand.

 While the document lists all 45 projects, those in the document that should see final drawings and construction begin in 2020 are: insect control building and yard replacement ($28.7 million); North Transit garage replacement ($205 million); police archival and exhibits building ($8.9 million); Route 90 improvement from Taylor to Ness ($520 million); South Winnipeg Recreation campus ($108 million) submitted as a project to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program ; Windsor Park and Waverley West Fire Paramedic Stations ($230 million); Arlington bridge replacement ($14 million), Bon-Vital pool ($5.4 million); St. James Civic Centre expansion ($14 million) and the Bishop Grandin Greenway pedestrian overpass ($18 million).  

Projects that should see final drawings and construction in 2021 include: the NEWPPC upgrade to deal with bio-solids ($553 million); airport area west water and sewer servicing ($70 million); Pembina highway overpass ($19.1 million) and Tyndall Park community centre ($8.3 million).

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