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Front street in bad shape? It won’t get fixed until at least next year, says Winnipeg engineer

The March 7 standing policy committee on infrastructure renewal and public works. YouTube

If you were hoping to see repairs to your residential street this year, you’re probably out of luck.

The city’s standing policy committee on infrastructure renewal and public works heard Thursday that all residential roadwork is being deferred until 2020 at the earliest, due in part to a funding squabble with the province.

Public works director Jim Berezowsky told the committee the majority of 2019 funding for street renewal was already allocated to industrial streets, with the remaining funds spent on engineering costs for local streets.

“For 2019, we did a first charge on our industrial streets, which is in the local street program, so a lot of our residential street program for 2019 will be deferred to later years, 2020-2021,” said Berezowsky at the meeting.

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Berezowsky said lane renewals are also significantly reduced for 2019. The city also clarifying that maintenance like pot hole repairs will still be done, but the street renewal projects are the ones not getting the green light.

READ MORE: Winnipeg road specialist says Winnipeg roads buckling in the heat could continue

“We really had no room to move because we have the accelerated roads program we have to deliver,” Brad Neirnick, the city’s manager of engineering, told the committee.

“Most of our accelerated roads were already under contract, so we had to deliver.

“In total, we had identified 53 street locations and 11 lanes, and those are all being deferred. We’ve done all the engineering for them, but they have to sit and wait.”

Mayor Brian Bowman confirmed that most local roads won’t see any construction crews this year.

“In the preliminary budget, the local roads budget is absolutely being decimated to fill the provincial hole in the 2018 city of Winnipeg roads budget,” said Bowman.

READ MORE: Critics say Manitoba budget leaves many unanswered questions

Bowman said $40 million of planned spending is “directly attributable” to less funding from the provincial budget.

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“Well, $20 million less is directly attributable to the provincial hole in our 2018 budget that we’ve been advised in recent weeks. There’s also proposed $20 million reduction in next year’s budget directly attributable to that.

“So you combine those two, it has a devastating impact on our local roads as a result of provincial decisions.”

When asked to respond to critics who say the city has to get its financial house in order, Bowman shot back.

“We balance our budgets. We have amongst the lowest property taxes in Canada. And the lowest per capita operating costs of a municipal government in Canada.

“So I think the province could learn a lot from the City of Winnipeg.”

Minister of Municipal Relations Jeff Wharton released a statement to Global News.

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“There is no hole in road funding – we have been clear and consistent while exceeding all commitments,” he said.

“Budget 2019 is very positive for the City of Winnipeg and delivers a 35 per cent increase in capital funding over 2018, up to $113 million.”

WATCH: ‘It’s a mess’: Manitoba construction boss upset by city budget

Click to play video: '‘It’s a mess’: Manitoba construction boss upset by city budget' ‘It’s a mess’: Manitoba construction boss upset by city budget
‘It’s a mess’: Manitoba construction boss upset by city budget – Mar 1, 2019

While the city won’t release a list of roads that aren’t seeing work done this year, saying it’s pre-mature until the budget is passed, some city councillors shared their own lists of streets not getting repairs such as:

  • Manthorne Avenue
  • Edison Avenue
  • Raleigh Street
  • Flynn Street
  • Thatcher Drive
  • Villeneuve Boulevard
  • Burrows Avenue WB from Aikins to Powers
  • Cork Avenue from Salter to Hannah

Michelle de Laronde says her road, Villeneuve Boulevard is so bad she has even damaged her car.

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“On this side of our street, it really, really sinks down. The buses and other vehicles have a hard time and all the city does is keep on refilling it.”

Michelle de Laronde. Amber McGuckin/Global News

Markus Chambers is the area councillor in St. Norbert and he says he’s disapointed the road isn’t being fixed.

“It was on my priority to be fixed,” he said. “I’m disappointed to find out now there’s no money in the budget for it.”

The city’s budget hasn’t passed council approval yet and the mayor Friday reiterated there are only three options — increase debt, increase taxes or the one he’s in favour of, which is decreasing road spending.

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