Crumbling infrastructure biggest concern of Winnipeggers

Following a horrendous winter marked by water main breaks, frozen pipes and now pothole-filled streets, a new poll suggests Winnipeggers believe infrastructure is the city's biggest challenge.
Massive potholes dot Empress Street at St. Matthews Avenue in Winnipeg. (Trevor Dineen/CBC)

Following a horrendous winter marked by water main breaks, frozen pipes and now pothole-filled streets, a new poll suggests Winnipeggers believe infrastructure is the city's biggest challenge.

Six in 10 (61 per cent) of the 605 people surveyed in Winnipeg by Probe Research said the problem of fixing the crumbling city is more important than jobs, crime or economic issues.

The results don't come as a surprise to Coun. Jeff Browaty.

"People drive on the roads everyday. People don't typically interact with the policing everyday. People don't, hopefully they are not dealing with the health care system everyday for the most part," he said.

"People see roads. They appreciate they are worse than they were in the past."

Authors of the poll said concerns about infrastructure are the highest they have ever tracked since starting their surveys for Winnipeg.

In December 2013, slightly more than one-third of Winnipeggers (35 per cent) felt that infrastructure was the top civic priority.

  • Other issues mentioned by a significant proportion of Winnipeg adults include civic politics and government (15%, down from 20% in December 2013), jobs and the economy (12%, down from 14%) and taxation (9%, versus 10% in December).​

While Winnipeggers are preoccupied with the condition of infrastructure in their city, their counterparts in rural and northern Manitoba are not as worried about the state of their streets, roads and underground pipes, researchers found.

Just 16 per cent of those surveyed outside the provincial capital think infrastructure is the top issue facing their communities. Rural and northern Manitobans are more likely to be concerned about jobs and the economy (23%, versus 12% among Winnipeggers).

Winnipeg city Coun. Brian Mayes said adding dedicated money from property taxes to repair the battered streets is a good step but admits the challenges are enormous.

"We are doing more than we were a couple of years ago, certainly. Will we ever get to the finish line? There is no finish line in this stuff because 30 years, things wear out over time," he said.

"But you can at least do a better job of maintaining than we've been doing."

This province-wide survey was conducted by Probe Research Inc. via telephone interviews between March 17-28. The results of the poll are considered to be plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

See the full results here: