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November 22, 2016

2017 Preliminary Budgets are Balanced, Build Winnipeg for the Future

Represent the Lowest Rate of Budgeted Expenditure Growth in Ten Years with Zero Rate Increase to Frontage Levies, Water & Sewer Dividend, and Vacancy Management

Released: 2:00 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB - The 2017 preliminary operating and capital budgets tabled at a special Executive Policy Committee meeting are balanced, limit expenditure increases to the lowest level in ten years, and continue to build Winnipeg for the future without relying on any rate increases to frontage levies, the water and sewer dividend, or vacancy management estimates, Mayor Brian Bowman announced today.

“I believe the preliminary budgets tabled today present a fiscally prudent and responsible blueprint,” said Mayor Bowman. “They limit budgeted expenditure increases to the lowest level in ten years while building our city for the future and maintaining and investing in key services important to Winnipeggers.”

“At the start of this year’s budget process, we were facing an immense $52 million deficit in our operating budget,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Over the last several months, we did a lot of listening, and I am pleased we have been able to work collaboratively and creatively to prepare and table for Council’s consideration a preliminary budget that is, first and foremost, balanced.”

Winnipeg continues to have amongst the lowest operating costs per capita across all major cities in Canada. This year’s operating budget proposes to maintain this trend by limiting expenditure increases to 2.31 percent, the lowest budgeted rate of growth in tax-supported spending in ten years.

“We are pleased to maintain Winnipeg’s competitiveness in this regard without cutting front line services or increasing vacancy management estimates while also limiting property tax increases,” said Mayor Bowman.

The preliminary budgets propose no rate increase this year to the frontage levy and the water and sewer dividend. No new fees or charges are proposed, and the Impact Fee recently approved by Council is not used as a funding source for any capital or operating program. The only increases to existing fees are inflationary increases that come into effect annually on January 1.

Property tax increases this year are limited to 2.33 percent, and the entire increase is dedicated to addressing Winnipeg’s infrastructure requirements, enabling record investments in road renewal of $105.2 million to continue in 2017.

Two percent of the proposed 2.33 percent increase is dedicated to rebuilding and repairing regional and local roads, and 0.33 percent of the proposed increase is dedicated toward the completion of the Southwest Rapid Transitway. This means the average homeowner will pay an additional $38 in municipal property taxes in 2017.

“Renewing and rebuilding our roads continue to be the highest priority of residents,” said Mayor Bowman. “Last year represented a record level of investment in road renewal, and I am very pleased we are able to maintain this record level of investment in 2017.”

The budgets propose to reduce the business tax rate from 5.3 percent to 5.25 percent in 2017, a 7.9 percent rate reduction from 5.7 percent in 2014.

The 2017 preliminary budget proposes to invest a total of $288 million in the Police Service, which reflects an increase of approximately $3.6 million or 1.3 percent from last year’s budget once adjusted for pension contribution rate changes. This increase is in-line with the rate of inflation and consistent with the level of increase outlined in the Winnipeg Police Board Strategic Plan.

Over $199 million is proposed to be invested in the Fire and Paramedic Service in 2017, which reflects an increase of over 4 percent from 2016.  The 2017 preliminary budgets include additional resources to purchase new firefighting equipment, maintain existing fire halls, and enforce new fire prevention measures that will improve public safety.

The 2017 preliminary budgets propose to invest a total of $13.5 million in various active transportation facilities, an increase of $4.9 million or 57 percent from the 2016 level of $8.6 million.

These investments include:

  • $3.6 million for new buffered bike lanes along Pembina Highway;
  • Over $2.8 million for bicycle corridors;
  • $1.6 million for protected bike lanes along Empress Street; and
  • An investment of $1.0 million in the Transcona Trail walkway.

A total capital investment of almost $433 million is proposed in 2017, representing a $74 million increase over the forecast level projected in last year’s budget.

“The preliminary budget reflects the reality that Winnipeg’s population is on track to grow steadily and strongly over the next twenty-five years,” said Mayor Bowman. “We need to manage and support this growth by investing in the right infrastructure at the right time so critical infrastructure is in place when we need it.”

Other new and ongoing program and capital investments proposed in the 2017 preliminary budgets include:

  • $5.2 million towards the Tache Promenade, a pedestrian promenade along the Red River in St. Boniface between the Provencher and Norwood Bridge
  • $4.1 million in 2017 to support the construction of a new recreation facility in south Winnipeg
  • $7.9 million for a new library in Transcona at 1500 Plessis Road with $2.5 million included in the 2017 budget
  • $2 million in 2017 for the construction of two new spray pad facilities: one at the North Centennial Recreation and Leisure facility (Old EX site) and one at the Freighthouse site located at 200 Isabel Street
  • Almost $8 million to repair and upgrade the Seven Oaks pool, with $2.4 million included in the 2017 budget
  • $750,000 for the 2017 Canada Summer Games towards a total $3 million capital commitment
  • $20 million in 2017 for the construction of a new Police Station in North Winnipeg
  • Increasing the operating support for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy to $10.8 million from $10.5 million as well as a capital grant of $5.1 million to support on-going infrastructure renewal efforts
  • Second year of a five year annual commitment of $1 million to the Winnipeg Art Gallery Inuit Art Centre
  • $1.75 million to support the Aboriginal Youth Strategy
  • Increasing operating support for the new Transportation Management Centre to $3.5 million, from $2.7 million in 2016
  • $600,000 to support the work of CentreVenture in the ongoing redevelopment and renewal of our downtown
  • $160,000 to support the University of Winnipeg’s Youth United program that provides youth with summer work experience and instruction on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • $150,000 to continue the Community Homeless Assistance Program (CHAT)
  • Third year of a five year annual commitment of $150,000 towards the United Way’s Plan to End Homelessness
  • An investment of $81.5 million, together with federal and provincial partners, to expand and overhaul existing transit maintenance facilities on Osborne Street, and purchase new transit buses to renew and modernize the bus fleet
  • An extension of transit routes in the fall of 2017 to support growing and expanding areas of the city in Amber Trails as well as Bridgwater Forest and South Pointe
  • A further $11 million in efficiency savings that are invested back into the capital budget to help rebuild roads
  • Continuing the $1 million innovation capital fund in 2017 to encourage and support further ideas for innovation and efficiencies

“The 2017 preliminary budgets strike the right balance between addressing our current structural operating deficit as well as continuing to invest in key services and infrastructure such as roads and transit that help build our city now and into the future,” said Mayor Bowman.

“Managing the infrastructure needs of a growing city while ensuring fiscal prudence and balance requires difficult decisions, and strong leadership that transcends ward boundaries in the interest of building Winnipeg for the future, and a Winnipeg we can all be proud of. Looking forward, we need to continue with a disciplined and responsible approach to investing scarce taxpayer dollars to continue delivering maximum benefit and value to taxpayers.”

November 22, 2016