Manitoba agrees to send Winnipeg’s funding request for upgrades to the North End sewer system, transit plan to federal authorities

Manitoba province has agreed to forward Winnipeg City’s application for federal funding to two key projects, the prime minister and mayor said at a news conference Wednesday.

It includes the second phase of upgrades to Winnipeg’s North End treatment plant, which involves the construction of a $ 552-million facility to process biosolids A sludge-containing by-product of the initial treatment of solid human waste.

A request for funding for the city’s master plan to review Winnipeg Transit a number of capital projects estimated to cost $ 538.9 million will also be passed on to Ottawa, announced Premier Heather Stefanson and Mayor Brian Bowman at Winnipeg City Hall.

The transit projects include a project with bus radio and intelligent transport systems, replacement of the North End garage and a transition to zero-emission buses.

The preliminary design of corridors in the center with fast transit, primary transit network infrastructure and retrofitting of wheelchair security is also part of this request for money.

A proposed new transit bridge over the Queen Elizabeth Way, connecting the CN Highline with the existing Southwest Transitway, is part of the city’s transit master plan. (Transport Master Plan)

The funding that the city is applying for comes from the federal government’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. Because federal funding cannot flow directly to a municipality, the province had to agree to promote Winnipeg’s application for cash to Ottawa.

The request was delayed

The city has undergone a massive upgrade of its wastewater treatment system to meet the requirements of its license under the county’s environmental law and reduce nutrient outflow to Lake Winnipeg.

Bowman said the work has taken too long.

“I think anyone who cares about the health of our rivers and lakes would have liked to have seen much of this addressed by previous administrations, both here in the city and at the provincial level, with different political streaks,” he said. .

“In my opinion, previous mayors and councils did not go as fast as I would have liked.”

The second phase of upgrades to the North End plant is just part of a multi-phase series of critical upgrades to the pollution control center, which the city estimates will cost $ 1.8 billion in total.

Winnipeg’s North End wastewater treatment plant needs upgrades, which the city estimates will cost $ 1.8 billion in total. (Trevor Brine / CBC)

The request for federal funding was stopped earlier this year when the province asked the city for it explore using a public-private partnership (P3) model to expand and operate the facility instead of forwarding Winnipeg’s request for funding.

Moira Geer, director of the city’s water and waste department, said at the time that using that type of model for Winnipeg’s largest and oldest treatment plant would actually take control of the entire system out of the city’s hands.

That’s because the city’s sewage treatment plants work together, and any public-private partnership can run for as long as 30 years, Geer said.

On Wednesday, Stefanson and Bowman said discussions on this topic will continue, but neither of them saw any reason to postpone the request to the federal government.

The city council’s executive political committee had already put forward a proposal to urge the province to immediately submit the city’s funding request to Ottawa – which Wednesday’s announcement achieves, Bowman said.

“It will cause less fireworks on the council floor tomorrow, which is a good thing in politics,” he said.

“We are actually able to demonstrate that we can work together.”

Meanwhile, a public-private partnership report requested by the province is now complete and will be presented to city council on Thursday, Bowman said.

The funding request still needs to be reviewed by the federal government after it is officially submitted, but the update is still a reason to celebrate, he said.

“Getting these two critical infrastructure projects moving forward in such a short time is an honor [Stefanson] and her leadership, “Bowman said along with the new prime minister, who was sworn in about three weeks ago.

It was a kind of joint news conference proposed by both leaders would have been uncommon under Stefanson’s predecessor, Brian Pallister.

“Manitobans rightly expect the leaders of the province and the largest community to stand together to solve problems and build a place for all of us to be proud of,” Stefanson said.

“We want to make sure we move forward together and send a signal to the federal government that these issues are of great importance, not just to the city of Winnipeg, but to all Manitobans.”

NDP raises concerns about privatization

Manitoba’s official opposition welcomed the announcement, saying it leaves the door open for privatization of water services, a water rate hike and sending jobs out of the province.

“Premier Stefanson refused to rule out a private model today, proving that she is not that different from Brian Pallister after all,” NDP environmental critic Lisa Naylor said in a press release.

Stefanson needs to give Winnipeg workers an answer on whether she “wants to send their jobs out of the province” or “fight for working families,” Naylor’s statement said.

Stefanson said those talks are still ongoing.

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