Manitoba

Winnipeg won't spend a penny fixing residential streets and lanes this year

Winnipeg doesn't plan on repairing any residential streets and lanes ​this year as its public works department scrambles to deal with the fallout of a city-provincial infrastructure-funding dispute.

Work on 53 streets and 11 lanes will be put off as officials deal with city-provincial dispute

Winnipeg's public works department is putting off plans to repair 53 residential streets and 11 back lanes until 2020 or 2021 because the city received $40 million less for road repairs than it hoped to receive from the province, a city committee heard Thursday afternoon. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Winnipeg doesn't plan on repairing any residential streets and lanes ​this year, as its public works department scrambles to deal with the fallout of a city-provincial infrastructure-funding dispute.

Councillors scrutinizing the details of Winnipeg's budget, which was released last week, were surprised to learn the public works department is putting off plans to repair 53 residential streets and 11 back lanes until 2020 or 2021.

That's because the city received $40 million less for road repairs than it hoped to receive from the province, a city committee heard Thursday afternoon.

"All the residential roads that we met with all the councillors on, and lanes … are not being done this year," engineering manager Brad Neirinck told a special meeting of city council's public works committee.​

The city had planned to spend close to $60 million on residential roads year, but dropped that to $21 million after the province declined to fork over $40 million of road-renewal funding promised in 2018, the committee heard.

Not one penny of the $21-million line item will actually fix any residential streets, because of existing two-year contracts for industrial roads and engineering work already conducted on streets in need of repair, Neirinck said. 

"We really had no room to move," he told the committee. "The only thing there was to give was the local roads."

Public works chair Matt Allard (St. Boniface) is blaming Premier Brian Pallister's provincial Progressive Conservative government for this situation.

"If the draft budget is passed, there will be no local street rehabilitations, as a result of the cut from the Pallister government," Allard said. "All we want is funding certainty and we don't have it."

The province insists there was no cut and that the city was warned in 2017 not to expect the additional $40 million in 2018.

"There is no hole in road funding — we have been clear and consistent while exceeding all commitments," Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton said in a statement.

The city budget faces a council vote on March 20.

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