Winnipeg facing $6.7 million deficit following October storm: city report

An early winter storm with heavy wet snow caused fallen trees, many on cars, and power lines in Winnipeg early Friday morning, October 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Ongoing efforts to clean up after the Thanksgiving weekend storm that leveled tens of thousands of trees across Winnipeg is putting a strain on city coffers, according to the city’s latest financial update.

In a report released Monday, the city said it is forecasting a year-end deficit of $6.7 million, thanks in part to the storm that whacked much of southern Manitoba in October.

The city estimates the storm clean-up will cost nearly $10 million.

“The City’s response to the October storm event continues to have a significant impact on the forecasted year-end financial status,” said Coun. Scott Gillingham, chair of the city’s finance committee, in a release.

“However, City departments have been able to find additional savings late in the year that will move the City closer to balance at year-end.”

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The city has said about 30,000 of Winnipeg’s 300,000 trees were damaged in the storm, which brought crews from Saskatoon, Regina and Calgary to help with the massive clean-up effort.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba premier declares state of emergency as snowy weather emerges'
Manitoba premier declares state of emergency as snowy weather emerges

It could be up to five years before the replanting process is done, the city has previously said.

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While Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister called a state of emergency during the storm, the city said as of Monday, the provincial government has not offered any financial assistance.

The city said it will apply for assistance from the province, should a program become available.

Even without financial help from the province, Gillingham said he’s hopeful the city will be able to find savings to help make up the projected deficit.

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“While the City may need to draw on the Financial Stabilization Reserve fund at the end of the year, it’s expected there will be savings found over December that will further reduce the projected deficit,” he said.

The financial update, along with an update on the operation and financial impacts of the storm, will be presented to the finance committee Jan. 10.

Click to play video: 'City of Winnipeg receives more than 1,700 tonnes of broken trees, branches'
City of Winnipeg receives more than 1,700 tonnes of broken trees, branches

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