Winnipeg unveils $393M capital budget

The City of Winnipeg has announced a $393-million plan to fix streets, sewers, sidewalks and buildings under its new capital budget.
Winnipeg lays out plan to address city's crumbling infrastructure. 1:54

The City of Winnipeg has announced a $393-million plan to fix streets, sewers, sidewalks and buildings under its capital budget.

The capital budget, unveiled on Tuesday, proposes a spending increase of about $23 million over last year.

Almost half of the budget will be spent on street repairs and construction, but it also earmarks funds for major projects such as the twinning of Plessis Road, a new public works yard, rapid transit, and the introduction of new garbage and recycling bins across the city.

The city's borrowing will go up by about $15 million to accommodate the capital budget.

Winnipeg faces a battle against time and decay … and the city is losing. Coun. Dan Vandal said the city cannot afford the billions of dollars needed.

"We're near the max of our borrowing. Unless we get new revenue streams to pay for the interest charges, and the general charges from the borrowing, [work will have to wait]. So, we're in a tough fix," he said.

The city says there is almost $4 billion worth of work waiting.

On Monday, jackhammers were pounding away at concrete inside a city-owned downtown parkade. The facility is 45 years old and the concrete is so uneven that people could trip and fall while walking to their vehicles.

Workers are trying to repair what they can.

At the same time, several homes in Fort Garry were left without water because of a watermain break in the neighbourhood.

And over in St. Boniface, an arena is closed for an undetermined amount of time because mould has made it a health risk.

There is so much work in Winnipeg that needs to be done, that if the city stopped providing every service, from snow plowing to police, and spent every cent on fixing  infrastructure, it would still take five years just to catch up.

"It's horrible, actually," said Vandal, who chairs the city's public works committee.

"We're not getting ahead of the problem. We're always losing ground to the infrastructure deficit."

He said the budget will hardly scratch the surface of fixing the city's aging infrastructure.