March 23, 2019 9:49 am
Updated: March 23, 2019 3:48 pm

Winnipeg should spend federal gas tax money on local roads: Mayor Brian Bowman

More than 200 renewal projects are took place in 2018 in Winnipeg. For 2019, that number is still up in the air.

Michael Draven/Global News
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One day after federal trade minister Jim Carr confirmed Winnipeg will see at least $40 million from this year’s gas tax allocation, Mayor Brian Bowman said he hopes to see that money spent on local roads.

Speaking with 680 CJOB Friday, the mayor said ultimately, council will decide on where the money will be spent.

“There’s nothing political about where the money is directed,” said Bowman, adding the gas tax money is based on population and municipalities are free to spend it where they see fit.

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“It’s simple, we know how much the allocation is going to be.”

Bowman and the Province of Manitoba have been in a public spat over roads funding this budget year, with the province all but freezing funding for infrastructure and insisting past money be allocated to certain projects.

While this has helped the province continue to slay a budgetary deficit, the city was forced to cut back on all residential roads spending in this year’s capital budget.

READ MORE: City vs. province spat will affect Manitoba voters, says politics prof

Bowman said the increase in gas tax money – $20 million more than expected – will help cover most of that shortfall, if council chooses to do so.

Global News has repeatedly asked for a list of the 53 road spots and 11 back lanes from the City that may or may not be completed this year due to funding issues and has been repeatedly denied the list, with this statement from a spokesperson from public works:

“It is premature to provide a list as we are currently engaged in budget deliberations and details will be finalized as part of that process.”

Now that the budget has been passed, Global News has once again asked for the list, but has been denied because the budget “does not include funding for local street renewals, therefore we are not presenting Council with a list of road projects for consideration in 2019.”

Global News has asked again for the list nonetheless.

The money is hoped to be in city hands in early May once the federal government passes the budget, so council will have to be prepared on their end to allocate it, said Bowman.

“I’d like to have [the money] in the bank, when you don’t have the money in the bank from other levels of government, you deal with what we dealt with this year, and also you don’t want to presume the will of council.”

READ MORE: City of Winnipeg passes 2019 budget with minimal road money — for now

However, the federal budget has yet to pass and if it passes later than expected, it will compromise the city’s ability to get all the work done this year, said Bowman.

“We’re going to be doing everything we can to leverage it to the extent that we can for roads and the priorities set out for council.”

RELATED: Winnipeg holds taxes at 2.33 per cent, lowers road spending by $29M

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