Deputy mayor proposes deep cuts to pay for Winnipeg's infrastructure costs
Winnipeg's deputy mayor, Russ Wyatt, says the province is to blame for his proposed spending cuts, which include support for housing, stopping rapid transit expansion and canceling art grants, so the city could address what he is calling a "massive infrastructure crisis."
Wyatt, who is also the chair of the finance committee, said the city has no choice but to start making deep cuts in order to get rid of a massive infrastructure deficit.
"I partly spoke out to start a discussion and debate for the very fact that we need to have this conversation because the provincial government has in fact abandoned the city of Winnipeg," said Wyatt.
In 2009, it was estimated that $115 million would be needed yearly just to fix regional roads and bridges, he added. Wyatt said the city needs to stand up for itself "in the face of reckless spending by the province."
He pointed to the recent provincial sales tax hike, which he said will raise $278 million dollars for the province a year, out of which Winnipeg will get $7 million. Wyatt said the sum is a "slap in the face" for the city.
Wyatt has been lobbying for more money to fix the city's infrastructure for the past decade, and has proposed a long list of cuts that would help raise the money.
"It's one thing to keep whining from City Hall and saying, 'Why doesn't the provincial government do more for us, why doesn't the federal government,'" he said.
"Ultimately if they don't do more for us, we have to use the tools and the resources we have now, to solve the problems we're facing."
The list of cuts includes closing the Arlington Bridge, stopping rapid transit expansion, canceling grants for art programs and museums as well as Assiniboine Park. Wyatt also proposed pulling out of deals with True North and the Canada Summer Games.
He also pitched what he calls "Wyatt Weekends," a plan to have 13 unpaid Fridays a year for city workers.