The Winnipeg Construction Association wants to erect barricades around Mayor Brian Bowman’s plan to devote scarce federal infrastructure funding to “routine road maintenance.”
On Friday, the mayor announced he plans to ask Ottawa to earmark $182 million from the new Building Canada Fund — a pot of money dedicated to infrastructure projects — to fix regional roads such as Pembina Highway, Portage Avenue and Main Street.
Citing polling that suggests road renewals are Winnipeggers’ No. 1 priority, Bowman said the city could fix more regional streets without devoting any more of its own money if the Trudeau government agrees to the city’s request.
“This is no new money for the City of Winnipeg or the Province of Manitoba to really accelerate the regional road repairs,” the mayor said Friday at city hall.
This plan, which faces council approval on July 19, marks a departure for the city, which usually prioritizes major projects for federal infrastructure funding. The last time the city created a wish list, in 2015, council made the Waverley underpass its top funding priority.
Ignoring capital projects in favour of roadwork does not fulfil the purpose of the Building Canada Fund, said Colin Fast, policy manager for the Winnipeg Construction Association
“If I was the infrastructure minister, I think I’d be sending this plan back to the drawing board because this is routine road maintenance. This isn’t a project that’s of regional or national significance. This isn’t what an infrastructure project is geared toward,” Fast said Monday in an interview.
“Normally, an infrastructure fund like this is supposed to be used for projects of regional or national significance — and here we’re talking about routine road maintenance. So it’s a little disappointing that the city couldn’t come forward with a plan that’s you know, a little more significant for the city.”
Along with prioritizing the Waverley underpass in 2015, city council also identified the widening of Marion Street, the widening of Kenaston Boulevard and the western extension of Chief Peguis Trail as the city’s top infrastructure-funding priorities.
The Waverley project is underway, but the Kenaston project has been delayed by the Kapyong land dispute and the Chief Peguis Trail extension remains in the planning phase.
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