Preliminary 2023 City budget re-invests in service, safety, economic growth, trees, and transport

Released: February 8, 2023 at 2 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB - Better customer service, enhanced community safety, economic growth, and transportation capacity are priorities for new investment in the City of Winnipeg’s 2023 Preliminary Budget Update, which was tabled by the Executive Policy Committee (EPC) today. This year’s budget update completes the last year of the City's first-ever multi-year (2020-23) balanced budget cycle.

“The pandemic has had a severe impact on City finances over the past three years,” said Mayor Scott Gillingham. “But now is the time to reinvest in priorities like transit capacity, road safety, tree planting and pruning, and better customer service so that together, we can build a stronger Winnipeg.”

“With a new Council, this budget is an opportunity to build collaboration between all Councillors and our federal and provincial partners to better serve our residents,” said Councillor Jeff Browaty, Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Finance & Economic Development.

The budget reflects priorities shared by all members of Council, incorporating recommendations from a four-member budget working group with equal representation from EPC and non-EPC members. Council and the public will have 23 days to review the draft before committees consider potential amendments.

New Revenue in 2023

If the budget is enacted as drafted, City tax policy will change as follows:

  • Property taxes will increase by 3.5% in 2023. As in previous years, 2% is dedicated to regional and local road renewal and 0.33 % will be dedicated to financing the Southwest Rapid Transitway.
  • Frontage levies for property owners with street frontage will pay $1.50 more per frontage foot, raising almost $18 million for road work and active transportation investments.
  • The business tax rate will remain at 4.84% –unchanged from 2022. However, with higher assessed values in 2023, the Preliminary 2023 Budget Update increases the threshold for the Small Business Tax Credit from $44,220 in 2022 to $47,500 in 2023, which will mean 55% of businesses will be eligible for 100% rebates.

Priority Investments in 2023

The Preliminary 2023 Budget Update funds post-pandemic reinvestment in key services, including:

Better Customer Service: The update proposes increasing the budget for 311 by 25% to improve service response times, and $450,000 to begin development of the Neighbourhood Action Teams concept.

Improved Transit and Transportation Service: The Preliminary 2023 Budget restores transit service to 100% of pre-pandemic levels over 2023; increases the investment in road renewals by $18.9 million over the 2022 forecast, including $8 million more for active transportation; and invests $2.8 million to advance trade corridor upgrades through planning and design for the Chief Peguis extension and Route 90/Kenaston Boulevard expansion.

Improved Safety and Security: The preliminary budget includes $1.0 million for more 24/7 safe spaces for unsheltered and at-risk Winnipeggers, $5.0 million to launch a major transit safety team initiative (details to be confirmed), $250,000 in annual funding for the Downtown Community Safety Partnership, and $100,000 for Millennium Library security. Additional Millennium Library security costs may be added to the budget later, pending an ongoing security review.

Economic Development and Growth: Proposed investments include $488,000 for permanent permit staff, and $2.0 million to maintain temporary staff to improve building permit processing; $150,000 to support action on the Municipal Service Delivery Agreement for Naawi-Oodena; and $60 million in funding to service new industrial lands at CentrePort South. 

Tree Canopy Investment: The update proposes investing $3.6 million in city funding to protect and renew Winnipeg’s tree canopy, above increased federal investments. This results in a total operating and capital investment in trees of $26.3 million in 2023 which is $4.7 million more than 2022.

Other environmental investments include $18 million ($3 million in 2022 and $15 million in 2023) to begin work on a nutrient removal plan for the North End Sewage Treatment Plant, $22.3 million for transitioning to electric buses, and $10.9 million for a new Fire Paramedic station in Waverley West in 2024 to be heated and cooled by geothermal technology.

The budget update also proposes restoring Winnipeg Arts Council grants to pre-pandemic levels, it invests $12.6 million to celebrate Winnipeg’s 150th anniversary by launching work on restoration of the former City Archives building at 380 William Avenue, and it includes $2 million to begin design work on a new East of the Red RecPlex.

The six-year capital plan of $3.1 billion is about $200 million more than in the 2022 budget. External debt in the six-year capital forecast remains well within the City’s self-imposed debt limits, and the City is projecting a consolidated budget surplus this year.

“Federal and provincial help has been critical in helping us recover on multiple fronts, and I want federal and provincial officials to know their assistance will pay off through better services and more opportunity for Winnipeggers,” said Mayor Gillingham.

The Preliminary 2023 Budget Update will be reviewed at Standing Policy Committee meetings starting on March 3rd, with the final Council debate scheduled for March 22, 2023.

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