Manitoba is set to invest record levels of funds on road infrastructure in 2013, the government says.
Manitoba is set to invest record levels of funds in municipal and provincial infrastructure as the province doubles the amount of money it spends repairing potholes and repairing improving streets in Winnipeg.
Premier Greg Selinger says the amount of money earmarked for upgrading road infrastructure in the Manitoba Building and Renewal Plan outlined in the 2013 Budget will amount to $194 billion, up from $172.5 billion in 2012.
In terms of municipal infrastructure, the province will double the amount to be spent over the next three years in repairing potholes and improving residential streets in Winnipeg from $21 million to $42 million. Manitoba will also spend $21 million over the next three years for a new Municipal Roads Improvement Fund, which will allow councils outside the provincial capital to apply to have as much as 50 per cent of the cost of new municipal road projects covered.
At a provincial level, Selinger says the government will spend what it says is a record $622 million on bridges and highways and the Manitoba Building and Renewal Plan, including those damaged by flooding in 2011.
This includes $50 million ($25 million apiece) for two new cost shared programs: an Urban Highway Fund which enables municipalities to prioritize investments in provincial highway affecting their municipalities and a Commercial Infrastructure Fund which assists resource industries and municipalities with cost-shared improvements such as increased loading for heavy truck traffic.
Reaction to the budget has been mixed. The Manitoba Heavy Construction Association said the new investment will improve roads and generate employment but Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz argued the new funding will not address the province’s ‘infrastructure deficit.’
“You’ve seen swimming pools close down. You’ve seen parkades close down, and what was announced yesterday does absolutely nothing,” Katz said, adding that the increase in infrastructure spending from the province is actually less than what Winnipeg received last year.
Katz says many of Winnipeg’s buildings and roads were constructed 40 to 60 years ago and that the city is involved in a constant struggle to maintain aging infrastructure.
The budget spending increase comes as building activity throughout the province picks up. Figures from Statistics Canada indicate that the overall dollar value of building permits issued in Manitoba in the first two months of this year was up almost 15 per cent over the same period in 2012.
Published on 18 April 2013