Winnipeg mayor reiterates trade fears under NAFTA opponent Trump
'We are a community that relies heavily on the ability to access the U.S. market,' Brian Bowman says
Days before Donald Trump's inauguration as U.S. president, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says he remains concerned about potential changes to cross-border trade agreements.
On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to reopen or cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals.
Anything that limits cross-border trade would directly impact Winnipeg's economy, Bowman said on Wednesday.
"Winnipeg is a trading city. We are a community that relies heavily on the ability to access the U.S. market," Bowman said following an executive policy committee meeting.
"We'll certainly be supporting the efforts of the federal government to ensure that the free-trade agreement is defended and access to the U.S market is protected."
The mayor said the City of Winnipeg might join the Pallister and Trudeau governments in engaging in outreach on free trade. Bowman said he has already discussed trade with Fargo, N.D., Mayor Tim Mahoney.
City mulls tax break for some cemeteries
City council's executive policy committee voted Wednesday to look at the financial implications of offering frontage-levy exemptions to religious and non-profit cemeteries.
At December's council meeting, Couns. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) and Jason Schreyer (Elmwood-East Kildonan) made a motion to see whether the city could provide some financial assistance to cemeteries struggling with their frontage-levy burdens.
That motion was referred automatically to executive policy committee, where motions from councillors who don't sit on the committee are often merely received as information. On Wednesday, however, EPC voted to see what the financial implications of the tax break would be.
Mayor Brian Bowman said there is concern the city could set a precedent that would see other non-profit organizations seek similar breaks.
Snow problem for budget
Mayor Brian Bowman acknowledged the city is likely starting the year in a $9.5-million hole after surplus funds earmarked to cover off the 2017 budget were likely spent on December 2016 snow clearing.
The 2017 budget includes a $9.5 million transfer from the 2016 budget. The city had hoped to post a budget surplus for 2016 roughly equivalent to that figure, thanks in part to unspent snow-clearing money.
Heavy snowfalls on Dec. 6 and Boxing Day likely used up that surplus and more. While the final cost of the cleanup has yet to be tallied — the year-end budget surplus or deficit will be unveiled in February — Bowman said it looks like the city will have to make do without the transfer of cash from 2016.
"We'll have to work with our means. That's how I anticipate we'll deal with this," the mayor said. "We very much wish it would have stopped snowing."