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Media Releases

March 6, 2020

 

City of Winnipeg Preliminary 2020-23 Multi-Year Balanced Budgets Tabled

Released: 1:33 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – Today, the preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets for the City of Winnipeg were tabled at a special Executive Policy Committee meeting, marking a historic and transformative step for our City by providing Winnipeg residents and businesses with a plan for the next four years.

The new multi-year balanced budget process has been more open and transparent than previous annual budget processes and has provided greater opportunity for active involvement of all members of Council, community organizations, the public, and the Public Service. The process began four months ahead of today’s tabling of the preliminary multi-year balanced budgets and today marks the continuation of this open and transparent review process.

“As other levels of government struggle to balance their budgets one year at a time, we are presenting balanced operating budgets for each of the next four consecutive years,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets present a responsible plan that strikes the right balance between fiscal and environmental sustainability while making investments in key services and infrastructure that will build our growing city for the future.”

At the start of the multi-year balanced budget process, the City was facing an operating deficit of $89.6 million in the tax-supported budget for 2020 that was projected to increase to $174.9 million by 2023.  

In October 2019, the Executive Policy Committee endorsed a framework to balance the budgets over the next four years. This framework included stringent operating expenditure targets for all departments and caps on capital expenditures. In November 2019, City Departments came forward with approximately $147 million of tax-supported operating expenditure reduction options over the next four years to assist in bringing the budgets into balance.  

“The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets tackle tomorrow’s deficits by eliminating them today,” said Councillor Scott Gillingham (St. James), Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Finance.

The multi-year balanced budgets tabled today aim to control expenses and drive efficiencies while focusing on investments in key areas including transit, community safety, community services, roads, fire protection, and trees. The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets chart a course for real, measurable transformative change over the next four years.

“The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets seize the opportunity for transformative change in key service areas,” said Councillor Gillingham. “I believe the transformative initiatives proposed are one of the most important features of the multi-year budgets.”

In 2020, the Public Service will bring forward options to establish a new Transformative Fund (TF) for Council’s consideration which will be funded from the sale of assets deemed surplus to the City’s needs. In order to determine which assets are surplus, the Public Service will conduct a review of City-owned buildings and consider repurposing up to 30% of City owned golf lands. The Public Service will develop a wading pool and splash pad reinvestment strategy that will be funded through the TF.

“The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets do not include any of the proposed closures of existing City facilities or any other significant reductions to important City services, such as discontinuing multi-family garbage collection or changes to street lighting,” said Mayor Bowman.

The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets reflect approximately $118 million of operating expenditure reductions and include many of the options proposed by the Public Service in November, as well as some additional expenditure reductions while continuing to keep Winnipeg’s property taxes among the lowest of all major cities in Canada. The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets propose to cap property tax increases at 2.33% per year for the next four years with the entire increase dedicated to Winnipeg’s infrastructure requirements, with 2% of the proposed annual increase dedicated to rebuilding roads and 0.33% dedicated to financing the Southwest Rapid Transitway. The average homeowner will pay an additional $41 in property taxes in 2020.

The 2020-2023 preliminary operating and capital budgets will be discussed at Special Standing Policy Committee meetings over the next two weeks, with Council voting on the 2020 preliminary operating and capital budgets at a special meeting of Council on March 25, 2020. Council will still be required to vote on the annual operating and capital budgets each year in accordance with The City of Winnipeg Charter.

Road renewal projected to reach a total of $1.4 billion by 2025

Released: 1:36 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets demonstrate that road renewal will continue to be a top priority through continued historic investments.

“Historic investments into fixing our roads continue to be a priority for Winnipeggers and that priority continues to make up a large part of the preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “When combined with investments since 2015, Winnipeg is on track for a projected total of $1.4 billion to be reached by 2025, which will be an 11 year total of 1,600 lane kilometers of road, back lane, and sidewalk renewals.”

The preliminary 2020 Capital Budget and five year capital forecast continues to invest the two percent property tax increase in regional and local road renewal. The preliminary 2020 Capital Budget proposes to invest a total of $130.3 million in local and regional road renewal, the highest level of annual investment in our City’s history. 

A projected total of almost $847 million or $141 million per year will be invested in regional and local road renewals over the next six years. 

This projected investment results in approximately 900 lane kilometers of road, back lane and sidewalk renewals, which is slightly greater than the distance from Winnipeg to Minneapolis. 

This investment will support important projects across all areas of Winnipeg including:

  • Re-construction of Fermor Avenue from Lagimodiere Boulevard to Plessis Road;
  • Re-construction of various downtown streets including Broadway from Osborne Street to Main Street;
  • Re-construction of various segments of Erin Street, Wall Street and Sargent Avenue;
  • Re-construction of Stafford Street, Taylor Avenue and Corydon Avenue; and
  • Reconstruction of Leila Avenue from McPhillips Street to McGregor Street.

Over the course of the last five years, road renewal has been an investment priority by the City of Winnipeg, in that time there has been a total of $535.3 million or 686 lane kilometers of regional and local road, back lanes, and sidewalk projects. With these previous investments combined with the projected $847 million over the next six years, Winnipeg is on track to invest almost $1.4 billion in regional and local street renewals, back lane, and sidewalks renewals over the 11 year period.

Preliminary 2020-23 multi-year balanced budgets propose spine and feeder investments and free Transit for children under 12

Released: 1:39 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – As part of the preliminary 2020-23 multi-year balanced budgets, investment into a new “spine and feeder” transit service model would transform Winnipeg Transit’s service in the south portion of the city, and starting in 2021, children under 12 would be able to ride Winnipeg Transit for free.

The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets propose an investment of over $13 million over the next four years for a new “spine and feeder” model that would provide fast, high frequency and efficient service for passengers in south Winnipeg. The Southwest Rapid Transitway (SWT) investments include 28 new, 60 foot articulated buses and seven new bus rapid transit stations along the SWT.

The multi-year investments into the city-wide transit network, including the SWT, will include changes to current routes, addition of new routes, service adjustments on selected routes, and the elimination of redundant routes.  The combined new service plan on a full year schedule will add nearly 40,000 service hours to the overall city network.

Starting in 2021, children under the age of 12 would be able to ride Winnipeg Transit at no cost. This would help families by eliminating financial barriers to public transit while encouraging the next generation to choose public transit.

“As Winnipeg grows, it will increasingly be important to have a modern public transit system and that’s why Winnipeg Transit remains a top priority in the multi-year balanced budgets,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Significant provincial funding reductions to public transit over the last number of years have presented the City with difficult decisions but the multi-year balanced budgets provide a road toward continued improvements.”

A further $1.3 million is proposed to be invested in Transit Plus in 2021 to eliminate a barrier that currently requires the origin and destination of a trip to be within 500 meters of an established bus route, a key recommendation of the Ombudsman Report. With over $2.5 million over the next four years, several other key recommendations are proposed for Transit Plus stemming from the Manitoba Ombudsman Report from 2019.

Winnipeg continues to have among the lowest transit fares compared to other major Canadian cities. The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets take strong steps forward for enhancing affordability for residents who need it most. A phased-in implementation of a low income bus pass is proposed to start on May 1, 2020 further enhancing the service’s affordability and accessibility.

The low income pass would provide eligible adults to qualify for a 30% discount on the cost of a full fare adult monthly pass in May 2020, a 40% discount in April 2021, and a 50% discount starting in April 2022. This would allow Winnipeg Transit to phase in the cost of this initiative over three years while assessing what additional resources might be required within the broader context of the forthcoming Winnipeg Transit Master Plan.

Transit’s overall operating budget (net of capital expenditures) is proposed to increase by an average of 2.5% over the next four years, slightly higher than its target of 2%. The multi-year balanced budgets do not propose a renewal of the UPass once the current agreements end in May of 2020. Reducing the number of buses purchased from 240 to 180 over the next six years and the discontinuation of the free downtown spirit service allowed Transit to meet expenditure targets without significantly impacting service.

With the new Southwest Rapid Transitway opening in the spring, and significant investments into transit safety, Winnipeg Transit is building for the future.

The multi-year balanced budgets build on existing investments in transit safety including:

  • $3.15 million to purchase and install bus operator safety shields for the entire bus fleet;
  • $1.1 million to modernize bus communication;
  • $65,000 to equip transit inspectors with protective vests; and
  • $100,000 for a study to support a long-term transit security plan that considers expanding the powers of transit special constables.

“Last year saw Council make important decisions about the future of Winnipeg Transit,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “The multi-year balanced budgets show how decisions about Winnipeg Transit will be budgeted over the next four years.”

Preliminary 2020-2023 Multi-Year Balanced Budgets Propose new Fire Paramedic Stations in Waverley West and Windsor Park

Released: 1:42 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – Over $25 million is proposed within the preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets for new fire paramedic stations in Waverley West and Windsor Park.

“I’m happy to see the proposed plan to build two new fire paramedic stations in Winnipeg,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Waverley West is a fast growing community and I’m pleased to see funds proposed from the Impact Fee reserve to support that growth.”

The recently released report on the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) Strategic Direction provides a 15 year master plan for investments into the WFPS. Two of the most urgent capital priorities identified in the report would be addressed through the construction of these two fire paramedic stations.

It is proposed that a new station in Waverley West, estimated at $12.1 million would be funded through a combination of the $7 million from the Impact Fee reserve and $5.1 million from external debt.
The second of the new stations would be built next to the current Station 15 in Windsor Park and would consolidate it with Station 9 on Marion Street. This proposed investment represents an estimated $13 million and would be financed primarily through external debt.

During the multi-year balanced budget process last year, the Public Service recommended approximately $7.4 million in operating reductions and $7.8 million in capital expenditure reductions to meet the four year expenditure target of 2%.

Approximately $2.2 million of operating reductions or 30% of the options proposed by the Public Service are proposed to be accepted in the preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets. This is primarily the result of a recommendation by the WFPS to reduce station maintenance over the next four years.

The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets prioritize an investment plan for this critical service in a growing city.  

The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets propose to increase the operating budget for the WFPS by an average of 2.1% annually for the next four years from $199.5 million in 2019 (net of capital expenditures) to $216.8 million in 2023, which slightly exceeds the target increase of 2% approved by Executive Policy Committee.

Preliminary 2020-23 Multi-Year Balanced Budgets Build on the Million Tree Challenge with Significant Investments for Protection and Enhancement of our Tree Canopy

Released: 1:45 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – Last year, the Million Tree Challenge was launched as a way to encourage Winnipeggers to help plant a million new trees as our population grows towards one million people over the coming decades.

“Winnipeg’s tree canopy is a great source of pride for our community,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “One of the easiest ways to combat climate change is to simply plant a tree. The Million Tree Challenge aims for a net expansion of our tree canopy that would go beyond the replacement of existing trees and those lost to age and disease.”

Approximately 50,000 trees need to be planted each year over the coming decades to reach the goal of a million trees.

The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets build on this effort by making the protection and enhancement of our trees a priority. It is proposed that the operating budget for tree planting, pruning, and Dutch Elm Disease Control be increased from $11.8 million in 2019 to $12.5 million in 2023, an increase of 6%.

Over $25 million is proposed for capital investment in the Urban Forest Enhancement Program and Reforestation Improvements over the four year period. This represents an increase of almost $10 million or 60% from the previous four year period.

“As Winnipeg continues to grow toward a million people, efforts that address environmental sustainability will continue to be a focus,” said Mayor Bowman. “These proposed investments would help support our tree canopy, a priority for many Winnipeggers.”

Preliminary 2020-23 Multi-Year Balanced Budgets Provide New Community Safety Investments While Maintaining Historic Funding to the Winnipeg Police Service

Released: 1:48 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets maintain annual support for the new Community Safety and Crime Prevention Program which strengthens local crime prevention and community safety efforts. Continued support for the Downtown Public Safety Strategy and an expansion of 24 hour safe spaces are also proposed. The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets continue historic investments into the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS), maintaining it as the largest portion of the tax supported operating budget.

“As our community continues to face safety challenges, we must better leverage community expertise while maintaining historic funding for our Winnipeg Police Service,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “We continue to look at ways to better address community safety that can complement the vital work of our Winnipeg Police Service.”

A key recommendation of the 2019 Illicit Drug Task Force Report is to support an expansion of community run 24 hour safe spaces. These spaces offer a safe environment for vulnerable people in our community to rest, access food, and social resources and supports. The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets propose a total new investment of $1 million over the next four years to support 24 hour safe spaces.

The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets maintain support for Phase 2 of the Downtown Public Safety Strategy with the provision of new operating funds for a Community Connections space at the Millennium Library. The Community Connections space will assist vulnerable and at risk residents to make important connections to social services.

Annual investments of $100,000 for the new Community Safety and Crime Prevention Program will continue for the next three years to support efforts that strengthen local crime prevention and community safety efforts.

When the multi-year balanced budget process began, the WPS were among a number of City of Winnipeg departments asked to reach 2% annual expenditure growth targets in their operating budget. As a result, the recommendation made by the WPS was to reduce the complement of sworn officers by 34 positions, as well as 25 cadet positions.

Around the same time, City Council made the decision to approve reforms to the Police Pension Plan to ensure sustainability for its members andfor property taxpayers. The reforms have made approximately $14.7 million in pension savings available and approved by Council to be reinvested back into the WPS over the next four years. This provides the option to the WPS to avoid reducing the complement of sworn officers and cadets while meeting their operating expenditure targets. This also reflects the recommendation of the Winnipeg Police Board to the Budget Working Group in December 2019.

A further $1.5 million in annual savings will be available to the WPS beginning in 2021 as a result of reforms to pensionable overtime to support police operations.

The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced operating budgets continue to propose historic investments by increasing the operating budget for police by an average of 2% annually from $289.4 million in 2019 (net of capital expenditures) to over $313.1 million by 2023.

Preliminary 2020-23 Multi-Year Balanced Budgets Ensures Civic Facilities Remain Open

Released: 1:50 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets protect vital community services while making expenditure reductions necessary to achieve balance.

“I am happy to confirm that the preliminary multi-year balanced budgets do not propose closing any city facilities that are currently open,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “The multi-year budget process was certainly more challenging due to a more open process that resulted in recommendations that included the closure of pools, libraries, arenas, and other civic facilities.”

The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets reflect approximately $4.7 million of the operating expenditure reductions in Community Services that were proposed by the Public Service.

“I appreciate the feedback we received from the community on civic facilities,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “That dialogue helped shape the multi-year balanced budgets into how they are presented for Council’s consideration today.”

While civic facilities that are currently open will remain open, adjustments are needed to account for the $4.7 million in expenditure reductions. Currently, 14 of 20 City of Winnipeg libraries are not open on Sundays and the remaining six libraries would be brought into line with this standard. Additionally, libraries will not be open past 8 p.m. The budgets also include a proposal to reduce Leisure Guide programming by 50% starting in January 2021. In order to achieve this reduction, a review of all Leisure Guide programming would occur in 2020 with a view to retaining programming in high needs areas with a focus on children and youth.
 
Overall, the preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets increase the Community Services operating budget by an average of 1.3% annually for the next four years from $105.1 million in 2019 (net of capital expenditures) to $110.9 million in 2023, which exceeds the target of 0.5% approved by Executive Policy Committee.

New Initiative to Drive Transformative Change Included in Preliminary 2020-2023 Multi-Year Balanced Budgets

Released: 1:53 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – A new initiative is being proposed as part of the preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets that would drive transformative change at the City of Winnipeg.

“One of the main benefits of the multi-year balanced budget process is the ability to take a longer term view of City planning,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “The Transformative Fund is an innovative proposal that would drive transformative change while looking to increase financial sustainability and drive efficiencies.”

The new Transformative Fund (TF) is a proposal that would be funded from the sale of certain assets deemed surplus to the City’s needs as part of the preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets. The proposal would see the public service study options to establish the TF as the City charts a course for real, measurable transformative change over the next four years.

The TF is envisioned as a way to support investments toward the transformation of how the City delivers services while reducing the infrastructure deficit faced by the City. The TF would focus on the protection and enhancement of Winnipeg’s tree canopy, recreation, and public green spaces.

The public service would be tasked with creating plans for Council consideration in 2020, including:

  • A plan to initiate the sale of John Blumberg Golf Course, and report back later in 2020 with a plan to re-purpose up to 30% of all city-owned golf lands;
  • A plan to reduce the number of building assets the City owns, including those leased to 3rd parties; and
  • A wading pool and splash pad reinvestment strategy that would be funded by the TF.

In preparation for the 2024-2027 multi-year budgets, the public service will be working collaboratively with the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) and Winnipeg Police Board to bring forward options for Council’s consideration on a multi-year funding formula for the WPS that would provide planning certainty for the City, and sustainable and predictable funding level for the WPS.

“Financial sustainability is the focus of these initial proposals and they represent ways the City can be more efficient with the resources it currently has,” said Mayor Bowman.

March 6, 2020