March 20, 2019
Released: 2:00 p.m.
Winnipeg, MB - With warmer weather finally arriving, residents are advised that thin ice conditions are becoming present on Winnipeg waterways, including drainage ditches, culverts, streams, creeks, retention ponds, and rivers.
Last year, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) responded to over 150 water and ice rescue calls. In an effort to reduce these types of dangerous calls, Winnipeg’s first responders are urging parents and teachers to speak to children and students about the dangers of waterways. The ice surfaces are thin and fragile, and falling into ice-cold water can be deadly.
“Sadly, we see far too many calls each year for water and ice rescues,” said Fred de Groot, WFPS Public Education Officer. “As we move into spring, no one should be going on any ice surface. Doing so puts yourself and our responders at risk. The ice thickness is unpredictable on all waterways and ponds so we encourage all citizens to steer clear of these surfaces, as well as the banks surrounding them.”
“Falling through thin ice is preventable and frequently ends with tragic consequences,” said Stephane Boulet, Patrol Sergeant, Winnipeg Police Service (WPS). “The WPS considers all frozen bodies of water within the city of Winnipeg to be unsafe for recreational use with the exception of areas that are monitored in accordance with the City’s Frozen Waterways By-Law.”
The public is also reminded that while the WPS River Patrol Unit places “Danger - Thin Ice” signage at specific locations including outfalls, retention ponds and other potentially dangerous areas, ALL ice should be considered unsafe.
For information on thin ice safety, please visit Winnipeg Police Service – River Patrol or contact the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service - Public Education Branch. Updated ice conditions for City-run facilities can be found at City of Winnipeg – Parks and Open Space.
Released: 2:08 p.m.
Winnipeg, MB - Council voted today to adopt the 2019 preliminary operating and capital budgets for the City of Winnipeg by a vote of 11-5.
“Despite some challenges, this year’s budget does a lot of good things for our city,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “I am pleased Council voted today to adopt the preliminary budget, and look forward to working with Council and the public service to implement the budget over the coming year.”
“This year’s budget faced a lot of challenges, but represents a responsible financial blueprint for the year,” said Councillor Scott Gillingham (St. James), Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Finance. “It also lays the groundwork for Council to consider a multiyear budget next year, and I look forward to working with all Councillors as well as residents to begin prioritizing and planning beyond just a single year.”
The Mayor said this year’s budget process was complicated by uncertainty with respect to the level of provincial capital funding that would be provided to the City of Winnipeg. This ongoing uncertainty resulted in this year’s regional and local road program budget being the lowest since 2014.
The adopted 2019 budget is balanced. No new fees or charges are introduced in the budget. Water and sewer rates are not increased. The frontage levy rate is not increased. On-street parking rates are also not increased.
The adopted budget limits operating expenditure increases to 3.9 percent when compared to last year’s budget. It also limits property tax increases to 2.33 percent and dedicates the entire increase to Winnipeg’s infrastructure requirements.
The 2019 adopted budget also includes:
- The highest level of funding to the police department in the history of the city – now $301 million;
- A 4.2 percent increase to the fire paramedic service;
- More than $400,000 to enhance snow clearing on the city’s growing, active transportation network;
- A freeze on transit fares;
- Purchase of new transit buses to improve system reliability;
- Introduction of a low income bus pass – a first for Winnipeg;
- Improved accessibility of bus stops;
- Improved safety measures for transit drivers and riders;
- More heated bus shelters;
- $1 million investment toward electrification of the city’s bus fleet;
- $100,000 to support Council in planning for multiyear budgets;
- Funding to support staffing increases in Urban Forestry Technical Services;
- An investment of up to $3 million in 2020 to renovate and renew Rainbow Stage;
- A review of the use of Special Operating Agency dividends;
- A decrease in the water and sewer dividend rate;
- A lower business tax rate; and
- Millions in capital support to address combined sewer overflows.
The 2019 adopted budget also includes recommendations to help prepare the city to transition toward multiyear budgets beginning with the 2020 budget year. With the adoption of the 2019 budget, the public service has been tasked with bringing to Council a report with the following information:
- An analysis of the city’s core service responsibilities under The City of Winnipeg Charter and any other relevant legislation;
- A plan to introduce an evaluation framework to review current and future city grants;
- A review of the city’s current fees and charges; and
- A review of the city’s unfunded capital projects.