City of Winnipeg Unveils Balanced and Strategic 2024-2027 Budget Plan

Released: February 7, 2024 at 2 p.m.
Strategic investment in services, new aquatic facility strategy, one of the lowest tax increases in Canada highlight financial plan

Emphasizing a "balanced approach," the City of Winnipeg’s Preliminary 2024-27 Balanced Multiyear Budget aligns strategic investments in essential services with careful financial stewardship, aiming to address both the challenges and opportunities facing Winnipeg. The budget was tabled by Executive Policy Committee today.

“With this budget, we're not just planning for the future; we’re actively investing in it,” said Mayor Scott Gillingham. “By focusing on the urban forest, community services, and enhanced transit options, we're ensuring Winnipeg remains a vibrant, livable city for all residents, despite the economic challenges ahead.”

Strategic Enhancements Across Key Areas

The budget responds to priorities outlined in the 2023 Strategic Priorities Action Plan which was developed by all of City Council, with notable investments including:

  • Protecting the Urban Forest: A 45% increase in the Urban Forestry budget over four years to enhance tree pruning and planting efforts.
  • Library Services: A new library in Northwest Winnipeg, expansion of library hours in selected areas and long-term library security enhancements.
  • Better Customer Service: The implementation of three Neighborhood Action Teams by 2026 to tackle local maintenance issues, and a second consecutive $1.25 million increase to the 311 service budget to improve response times.
  • Support for Arts and Downtown Revitalization: Funding for a new CentreVenture mandate and a Downtown Arts Capital fund to support capital improvements at Winnipeg's arts institutions.
  • Infrastructure Improvements: Nearly $1 billion allocated over six years for road renewal and enhancements to active transportation options.

Aquatic Facility Modernization and Investment in Communities

The Preliminary Budget also focuses on recreation and local amenities, introducing:

  • Aquatic Modernization Plan: A $20 million strategic initiative to phase out outdated pools in favor of modern spray pads and other recreational facilities, addressing community needs while managing costs effectively. This is consistent with the Council-approved Wading Pool Rationalization and Spray Pad Reinvestment Strategy in the Winnipeg Recreation Strategy.
  • New Communities Fund: An annual $2 million allocation to support neighborhood-specific projects identified by area councillors, fulfilling the Mayor's commitment to bolster local funding.

Advancements in Future Transit and 911 Service

  • Moving on the Transit Master Plan: Transit subsidies are now one of the fastest growing costs in the budget. The Preliminary Budget includes a $0.10 annual increase for cash Transit fares – but it also freezes the low-income WINNpass for 2024 and introduces investments to enhance service quality, including the addition of four new routes, expedited delivery of an entirely new route network in 2025, upgraded payment technologies, and the launch of the Community Safety Team.
  • Next Generation 911 Services: Steps towards implementing a modernized 911 service, allowing for text, photo, and video submissions to aid first responders, supported by a dedicated monthly fee. The budget also calls on the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and Winnipeg Police Service to explore consolidation of their 911 systems to improve operating efficiency.

Fiscal Responsibility and Future Prospects

While major cities across Canada are imposing property tax hikes ranging from 5-10%, the City’s budget working group wanted to prioritize affordability while still investing in City services.

“Mortgage refinancing costs are still high, local rents and household expenses are rising due to inflation, and repayments for federal small business pandemic loans started in January,” explained Councillor Jeff Browaty, Chair of Finance and Economic Development. “We need to take a balanced, responsible approach.”

The Preliminary Multi-Year Balance Budget:

  • Raises property tax by 3.5% each year, in line with the Mayor’s 2022 campaign plan. 2.0% continues to be dedicated to road renewal and active transportation from 2024-26.
  • Holds business tax rates at 2022 levels, and frontage levy rates at 2023 levels.
  • Increases the Accommodations Tax by 1%, which will fund increased city beautification and safety efforts, along with a 2024 top-up to the Special Events Marketing Fund.
  • Increases general fees by 5%, 5%, 2.5% and 2.5% over the four years to catch up to changes in inflation in previous years.
  • Includes over $30 million in corporate efficiency targets, including a Fleet-specific savings target.

Looking Ahead

This is the City’s second four-year balanced budget, reflecting a commitment to long-term financial planning. Mayor Gillingham and Councillor Browaty emphasize that while the Preliminary Budget lays a solid foundation, further investments in areas such as trade corridor expansion and green energy are anticipated as part of ongoing efforts to fulfill the ambitious agenda of a growing city.

“We’re committed to adapting and expanding our services to meet the evolving needs of our community as new information is presented to Council on the details of projects, project costs and financing options,” Mayor Gillingham concluded. “This is a budget that prioritizes the well-being of our residents, and invests in the services that make Winnipeg one of the best places to live in Canada.”

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