Mayor Bowman keeps positive outlook despite province ignoring budget requests

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman. Walther Bernal / Global News

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman is brushing aside any notion that he is frustrated by the latest provincial budget.

In November, the mayor submitted three key priorities to the province: endorse Winnipeg’s accelerated regional roads proposal; restore the 50/50 transit funding agreement; and commit to a long-term, predictable funding framework.

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But while Monday’s budget did nothing to support those requests, Bowman won’t take any shots at Premier Brian Pallister or Finance Minister Cameron Friesen.

“I don’t believe personalizing it is going to get us further ahead. My comments continue to be about the government and not the individuals,” Bowman said. “Not the individual who’s leading it or individual cabinet ministers. I believe everybody who’s at the Legislature of all political parties goes in there because they want to make a positive difference.”

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The city and province have until Mar. 31 to come to an agreement to access federal funding for road repairs. Bowman said he is staying positive despite the PCs cutting $152 million in capital spending on roads in its 2018 budget.

“Am I annoyed? No. Winnipeggers expect elected officials at multiple levels of government to do their best to work together,” Bowman explained.

“That’s the expectation Winnipeggers sent me to City Hall to do, and I’m going to continue do my best to work as collaboratively as possible with both the federal and provincial governments.”

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The mayor also pondered how carbon taxes could help offset the lack of increased funding for Winnipeg Transit.

“The need for the operational review becomes pretty vital going forward. I know there was a $40 million fund for green initiatives announced. There may be some opportunities for transit. We’re looking forward to hearing more from the province on how those funds will be utilized. We’ll be ready to have dialogue with them on how that can be used on things like transit.”

Bowman said he is also waiting to hear from the PCs about how cannabis revenues will be shared with municipalities and about the possibility of the province taking over the responsibility of ambulance services, which is becoming more costly for the city as the province reduces fees.


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