Manitoba

Bowman hopes provincial budget will be open, honest and clear

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman's wish list for Thursday's provincial budget is sprinkled with pleas for candour from the Progressive Conservative government.

'We are not expecting clarity. We are expecting a lot of numbers,' Winnipeg mayor says

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says the provincial government has been anything but clear about funding. (CBC)

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman's wish list for Thursday's provincial budget is sprinkled with pleas for candour from the Progressive Conservative government.

Bowman used the words open, honest, clear and clarity several times as he spoke with reporters at city hall Tuesday, two days before the PCs deliver their fourth budget.

"What has become clear is how unclear the support levels are from the province. We are not expecting clarity. We are expecting a lot of numbers," Bowman said.

The city dropped its own budget last week, which featured a big hole in road infrastructure spending, but did not include a massive tax increase Bowman hinted was possible in the days leading up to its delivery.

Bowman said he is concerned that whatever is announced will "take months or years to get answers [on]."

The budget numbers might include IOUs for projects the province previously committed to funding, such as the Waverley underpass and Phase 2 of the southwest rapid transit line.

If those projects do make it into the budget, the challenge will be to make sure the funding comes "in a timely manner," Bowman said.

The city once threatened legal action against the province for not making a previously promised payment for transit work.

"What we would all benefit from is clarity. Just be open, honest, clear, so that all governments can be accountable for the decisions that they make," Bowman said.

The two levels of government have been at odds for months as the Tories closed the door on the final year of a funding commitment for road repairs that had been made by the previous NDP government.

Finance Minister Scott Fielding accused the city of a "spending problem" not a "revenue problem" and Bowman floated the idea of a massive property tax increase to make up for the missing provincial funding.

Bowman says he applauds the province for getting its fiscal house in order and he's not asking for more money, but he expects "more questions than answers" in the budget about funding for Winnipeg.

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