Winnipeg faces $6.9B shortfall for infrastructure needs over next decade, report says

Paramedics ask Winnipeggers to keep calm, signal on amid busy roadwork

The City of Winnipeg faces a $6.9-billion gap between the money it needs to fix or replace inferior roads, sewer, water mains and buildings and the revenue it expects to get to do the work.

The 2018 State of the Infrastructure Report, published by the city Friday morning, pegs the city's infrastructure deficit at $6.9 billion over the next 10 years.

This covers both repairs to existing infrastructure and new projects the city says it needs.

"The gap between total capital investment requirements and estimated future capital funding resulted in an approximately $6.9-billion deficit," states the report, which will go before council on Thursday.

"The city will face difficult choices in funding capital projects, determining affordability, and what potential sources of revenue may be available."

The report cites roads, bridges and transit as the areas where the funding shortfalls are greatest.

It also assigns report cards to various forms of city infrastructure, concluding fire-paramedic service buildings, recreational infrastructure and municipal office buildings are in the worst condition.

Overall, the city's infrastructure gets a C+ grade, the report states.

In terms of citizen satisfaction with infrastructure, the report concludes Winnipeggers are least satisfied with roads and rush-hour traffic management. 

The city is spending less on infrastructure than it used to spend. The tax-supported portion of the capital budget — that is, the money the city spends on all new roads and bridges, major repairs and equipment purchases — has dropped $74 million, from $320 million in 2017 to $246 million this year.

Mayor Brian Bowman nonetheless stated the city has whittled away at its infrastructure deficit over the past decade, especially with property tax hikes dedicated to road renewals.

Those dedicated tax hikes were instituted under former mayor Sam Katz, with the help of Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, and have continued since Bowman became mayor in 2014.

Bowman said the city must work more closely with other levels of government to gain access to infrastructure funds and will rely more on data to make decisions about future infrastructure projects.

The mayor said it appears to the public that other levels of government make infrastructure funding decisions based on partisan or political needs, as opposed to data.

Bowman also said the city is publishing a trove of infrastructure data that will make it more difficult for governments to make decisions that are not based on objective criteria.