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2017 Budget

Message from the Mayor and Chair of Finance:

  • Introduction

    We are very pleased to table the 2017 preliminary capital and operating budgets.

    At the start of this year’s budget process, we were facing an immense $52 million deficit in our tax supported operating budget.

    Over the last several months, we worked collaboratively and creatively to prepare and table for Council’s consideration a preliminary budget that is balanced.

    We are pleased Standard & Poor’s most recent Global Rating Report reaffirmed Winnipeg’s AA/Stable credit rating. In their report, Standard & Poor indicated their assessment is based on “the city's very strong economic fundamentals, exceptional liquidity position, moderate debt burden, and very low contingent liabilities”.

    The 2017 preliminary budgets build on these principles. In this regard, bringing the budget back into balance has required a lot of listening, as well as many difficult choices and decisions. The preliminary budgets present a balanced, fiscally prudent and responsible plan that limits budgeted expenditure increases to the lowest level in ten years while maintaining and investing in key infrastructure and services important to Winnipeggers.

    At the same time, the preliminary budget reflects the reality that Winnipeg’s population is on track to grow steadily and strongly over the next twenty-five years, and that 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.

    Building on last year’s goal of increasing citizen engagement in the budget process, this year’s budget planning process was enhanced through the addition of five community-based consultations held at locations across Winnipeg.

    These consultations were open to all members of the public and community organizations, and provided opportunities to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Winnipeg. Residents also had the opportunity to provide input and feedback through various on-line platforms, and a telephone survey was undertaken in early October. Individual meetings with each member of Council were also conducted by the Finance Chair and Chief Financial Officer.

    Demands on this year’s budget continue to be high for many priorities such as improved roads, safe and secure communities, improved transit as well as renewed and expanded community centres.

    We believe the preliminary 2017 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.

  • Revenues & Expenditures

    Winnipeg has 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 in 2017, the lowest rate of budgeted 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 targets.

    No rate increase is proposed to the frontage levy this year, and the water and sewer dividend rate remains fixed.

    The preliminary 2017 budgets do not propose any new fees or charges, and the Impact Fee recently approved by Council is not used as a funding source.

    The only increases to existing fees are inflationary increases that come into effect annually on January 1.

    Winnipeg continues to have amongst the lowest property taxes in Canada and this budget takes steps to maintain our competitive ranking in this regard.

    Property tax increases this year are limited to 2.33 percent, and the entire increase is dedicated to addressing Winnipeg’s infrastructure requirements.

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

    Road Renewal

    Without a doubt, investment in roads remains a top priority for our citizens and this budget reflects this priority.

    The 2017 budget proposes to maintain record investments in road renewal at $105.2 million. This will enable us to continue rebuilding and renewing our regional and local streets. The 2017 budget and the five year capital forecast increases investments in road renewal each year starting in 2018 for a total investment of over $685 million in road renewal over the next 6 years.

    Business Tax

    To continue powering the economy and reduce the burden on small businesses, the business tax rate will be reduced from 5.3 percent to 5.25 percent in 2017.

    Since this Council took office two years ago we have reduced the Small Business Tax rate from 5.7 percent to 5.25 percent and we have increased the Business Tax threshold from $23,880 to $32,220 which has eliminated the business tax for almost one-half of Winnipeg businesses.

    Efficiency Savings & Innovation

    Identifying efficiencies, ensuring value for taxpayers, and encouraging innovation continue in this year’s preliminary budgets.

    In 2017, we have identified a further $11 million of efficiency savings through various measures. These savings have been invested back into the capital budget to help rebuild roads. Since this Council took office two years ago, we have identified $28.5 million of efficiency savings that will be re-invested in rebuilding our regional roads.

    To encourage and support further ideas for innovation and efficiencies, the preliminary budgets continue the $1 million innovation capital fund in 2017.

    Community Safety

    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 target stated 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.


    A modern, well-functioning public transit system is critical for a growing, thriving city and the preliminary budgets propose significant levels of investment in transit capital.

    Construction of the next phase of the Southwest Rapid Transitway continues, and we are pleased the public private partnership for this project has helped identify efficiencies and cost savings that have reduced the overall cost from $587.3 million to $467.3 million.

    In 2017, together with our partners at the federal and provincial levels, the preliminary budget proposes to invest $81.5 million to modernize and upgrade existing transit capital assets.   This includes over $53.2 million to expand and overhaul existing transit maintenance facilities on Osborne Street as well as an investment of over $22.4 million towards the purchase of new transit buses to renew and modernize the bus fleet.

    In addition, this budget proposes to extend transit routes in the fall of 2017 to support growing and expanding areas of the city in Amber Trails as well as Bridgewater Forest and South Pointe.

    Active Transportation

    Investments in active transportation facilities are essential to support a healthy, active community and provide transportation options for citizens of all ages. 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% from the 2016 level of $8.6 million.

    Investments in 2017 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.

    Water & Wastewater

    The water, wastewater and solid waste utility operations form a significant part of these budgets. These budgets include capital and operating funds to address environmental and legislative licensing requirements as well as updated rate projections. The long term capital plan includes almost $400 million for the sewer capital program including $168 million to address combined sewer overflows and basement flooding.

    Long term Capital Plan

    The City continues to face an immense challenge to address a projected infrastructure deficit of $7.4 billion, about half of which is required to upgrade existing infrastructure and the other half required to invest in new infrastructure to support a growing city.

    The 2017 capital budget takes steps to address this infrastructure deficit by including additional one-time funding sources. This includes over $38 million from the federal government’s public transit infrastructure fund, $8.6 million from capital project surpluses, and the strategic use of debt to fund intergenerational projects.

    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.

    Over the next six years, the capital budget is projected to invest a total of $2.2 billion, including:

    • Road, bridge, and active transportation projects – $878.7 million
    • Transit –$287.9 million
    • Community Services including library and recreational facilities – $120.5 million
    • Police and Fire/Paramedic Services – $100.9 million
    • Investments in the water utility – $192.2 million

    Individual strategic capital investments 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 2 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

    New and ongoing program spending

    The 2017 preliminary budgets propose new and ongoing investments to build complete neighbourhoods and strengthen community amenities including:

    • Increasing the operating support for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy to $10.8 million from $10.5 million as well as a capital grant of $5.1million 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 5 year annual commitment of 150,000 towards the United Way’s Plan to End Homelessness.


    At the mid-point of this Council’s mandate, we believe City Hall is on a better track today than it was two years ago.

    We have made significant progress toward making City Hall more open and transparent, more accessible and responsive, and we have strengthened our sense of pride in our City.

    We believe the 2017 preliminary budgets continue the momentum and progress made over the last two years.

    Winnipeg today is a growing, thriving city, and is projected to grow steadily and strongly over the next 25 years. A growing city needs to be supported with the right infrastructure, and it needs to be in place at the right time. We need to be building Winnipeg today so critical infrastructure is in place when we need it, and when our children, and their children, need it.

    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 will need to continue with a disciplined and responsible approach to investing scarce taxpayer dollars.

    We can achieve this by working closely with the federal government to maximize Winnipeg’s share of infrastructure funding. We will work with our provincial government to ensure Winnipeg gets a fair say in how infrastructure funding is invested. And, we must continue to review and scrutinize expenditures to ensure we are investing tax dollars in ways that provide maximum benefit and value to taxpayers.

    We now invite all citizens and members of Council to continue the discussion to finalize the preliminary 2017 operating and capital budgets.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Brian Bowman

    Scott Gillingham
    CHAIR, Standing Policy Committee on Finance

Budget 2017 Presentations:

Get involved!

Citizens are invited to participate in the 2017 Budget process. Please contact 311 to register as a delegation for the following meetings, which are scheduled as part of the 2017 Budget approval process:

Monday, November 28, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
Standing Policy Committee on Water and Waste, Riverbank Management and the Environment (Regular Meeting)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 9:00 a.m.
Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works (Regular Meeting)

Friday, December 2, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
Standing Policy Committee on Protection and Community Services and Parks (Regular Meeting)

Monday, December 5, 2016, 9:00 a.m.
Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage and Downtown Development (Regular Meeting)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
Winnipeg Police Board (Special Meeting)

Thursday, December 8, 2016, 9:00 a.m.
Special Executive Policy Committee to hear delegations on Budgets

Friday, December 9, 2016, 9:00 a.m.
Special Executive Policy Committee to consider Standing Policy Committee recommendations and table final recommendations

Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
Special Meeting of Council to pass Budgets


Please consult 2017 Budget Infographics for compiled infographics in PDF format.

Last update: January 30, 2019

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