Winnipeg budget passes 14-2 despite concerns over community services funding

The $1.3-billion 2023 Winnipeg budget passed, despite objections from some community members and council members that it doesn’t do enough to support vulnerable people or move the city away from dependence on cars.

St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard voted against both capital and operating budgets

A man in a blue suit is standing and talking
Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham on Wednesday passed his first budget since taking office. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Winnipeg city councillors approved the 2023 budget with an overwhelming number voting in favour.

The $1.3-billion budget passed, despite objections from some community members and council members that it doesn't do enough to support vulnerable people or move the city away from dependence on cars.

Both the capital and operating budgets passed by 14-2 margins, which included all members of Mayor Scott Gillingham's executive policy committee voting in favour. 

St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard was the only councillor to vote against both budgets. Elmwood-East Kildonan Coun. Jason Schreyer voted against the capital budget, citing growing construction costs. Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie voted against the operating budget, which he said hasn't been adequately funded. 

This is Gillingham's first budget since taking office. The support for the budget reflects the hard work that went into preparing it, he said.

"But the harder work, the more difficult work, will be through the 2024 to 2027 multi-year budget. And very shortly, that work will begin in earnest to develop that next multi-year budget."

The budget includes $567 million for capital projects, including a business case study on widening Kenaston Boulevard and extending Chief Peguis Trail west. The final price tag for those two projects is expected to be around $1 billion.

Those priorities drew opposition from some, including Allard.

"This budget says we should spend $2.8 million in imagining a billion-dollar road project and … it is so much money," he said in an interview before the budget vote.

Winnipeg city council approves 2023 budget

3 months ago
Duration 2:10
This year's budget calls for a 3.5 per cent tax hike. But there remains concerns from some council and community members it doesn't do enough to support community services.

Allard brought forward a motion calling for a number of budget changes. He told reporters he would only support the budget if council approved a $220,000 grant to homeless outreach group St. Boniface Street Links, which the organization says it needs in order to continue operating.

His motion failed to pass. 

Concerns over community safety hosts 

Councillors also heard from community members concerned the city isn't doing enough to fund services, like libraries.

Representatives of the group Fearless R2W spoke as delegates before the meeting. The group helped create the community safety hosts program, which trains people to act as security guards while also giving them skills in de-escalation and harm reduction.

The city currently has two safety hosts in the Millennium Library, but the group says the budget only has enough money to keep them going until June.

"Eighty per cent of the interactions that community safety hosts have had with people that were in an escalated state ended with no police needing to be called and the person getting the things that they needed," said board member Michael Redhead Champagne.

Community Services Chair John Orlikow and Mayor Gillingham both said there may be a chance to add funding for the safety hosts later this year.

The city is waiting for a report on safety at the Millennium Library following a fatal stabbing last year. Orlikow would like to explore ways the safety hosts model could be expanded in the interim, adding he'd like to see a "bevy" of safety hosts.

"I think we should have safety hosts in there, but how many, what times, that will all have to be worked out. But we also have to make sure we properly fund them," he said.

The budget includes a 3.5 per cent property tax hike, and a $1.50-per-foot increase to the frontage levy. It also includes $5 million for a transit security team, and $156 million for road repairs, down $9 million from 2022.

This is the end of the budget process for this year. Councillors will be back for their regular meeting on Thursday.


Cameron MacLean is a journalist for CBC Manitoba living in Winnipeg, where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience reporting in the city and across Manitoba, covering a wide range of topics, including courts, politics, housing, arts, health and breaking news. Email story tips to