MHCA asks Winnipeg for impact of bridge-work expenses on reserve fund for streets

MHCA asks Winnipeg for impact of bridge-work expenses on reserve fund for streets

The City of Winnipeg is on track to miss the original targets for its street-repair investment by 2024 by $40 million, according to an analysis of budget forecasts by the MHCA.

Further, if City Council proceeds with funding annual bridge work from the local and regional street renewal reserve – a dedicated fund that is recharged each year by the 2% tax hike for roads – then the shortfall climbs to approximately $100 million, the numbers show.

The MHCA has sent the city administration the results of this review and has asked for confirmation, or an indication as to where the numbers are wrong.

In 2013 and 2014, city council voted for a 1% dedicated tax hike annually for each of the local and the regional street programs – known as the 1%+1% plan. It was intended to increase street-repair budgets each year, to get to a sustainable level of funding. ‘Sustainable’ means the level at which the annual budgets keep up with the need for repairs.

In an email sent this week, MHCA President Chris Lorenc asked City administration how the additional bridge expenses will affect the plan to get to sustainable levels of funding for streets.

“The MHCA would appreciate receiving the City’s analysis of the impact the additional bridge deficit burden will have on the 1+1% reserve and plan, and what options the city has before it for consideration to offset the impact, address the bridge-investment deficit and restore the local and regional streets plan to its original purpose.”

In a vote in January, city council approved allowing bridges to be funded from the 1%+1% reserve.

“It is difficult to understand this decision because we know that there is a considerable investment deficit for local and regional streets – the streets need some $2 billion worth of work to bring them all to good condition,” Lorenc noted.

Bridges have an investment deficit of $1.3 billion. Together they comprise almost half the city’s total infrastructure deficit of $6.88 billion.

“Without a plan – reworked to generate additional revenues, for example – how can the city ever hope to get its streets into good condition, on a reasonable time-line?”

Lorenc said Ruta was also asked to provide the details of the city’s new calculation of its infrastructure investment deficit. It was calculated at $6.9 billion in 2009; in March this year, an updated report was released in which the city notes that about $1.35 billion has been shaved from the local and regional street-repair investment gap.

The MHCA will update this information when it receives a reply from the City.

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