Winnipeg’s next municipal election is Oct. 26, and Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (MHCA) President Chris Lorenc stressed that no matter who wins, the city’s infrastructure and roads must be the focus.
“Our regional road network in Winnipeg carries 80% of the traffic. It’s the basis of our ability to move people to jobs and products to market, and many of them are in a terrible state,” Lorenc said.
“Funding between Winnipeg, Manitoba and Ottawa for regional road networks ends in 2023. What’s the plan?
“Returning to a more fundamental concern, our association, industry and other business organizations have repeatedly advocated that growing the economy is the policy priority of every level of government,” Lorenc said. “If you don’t increase the size of the tax base, if you don’t attract investment, if you don’t generate new areas of economic activity or improve existing areas of economic activity, you are not increasing the size of the revenue stream, therefore you are not able to meaningfully discuss funding for health care, education, social services, security, recreation and infrastructures.
He stressed that it should be a priority for the Mayor and Council of Winnipeg to “recognize that infrastructure budgets should be, as a priority, leveraged to achieve the best opportunities for return on investment relative to GDP that exist.
“It doesn’t mean that you ignore the maintenance, repair, rehabilitation or improvement of what you have. But if you’re looking at where you’re going to invest your capital program, what’s the best value? said Lorenc.
Many Manitobans, including himself, he said, don’t pay attention to politics during the summer, but begin to focus on pre-election issues after Labor Day. To that end, the MHCA is hosting a Mayors’ Forum on October 5 featuring the candidates vying to lead Winnipeg.
“The only area we are going to ask them about is economic growth. What is your policy? What is your approach? What is your vision? Where do you think you should invest? What is your economic growth strategy? How are you going to guide your administration to think about growth to think about our path to GDP? ” he said.
Lorenc also pointed out that the other western provinces are ahead of Manitoba in terms of financial health.
“We’re looking at the western provinces and they’re balancing their budgets, they’re running surpluses and Manitoba is now the only province that’s out of step with what seems to be happening in western Canada right now,” he said. he said, acknowledging Alberta and Saskatchewan both have the advantage of resource royalties and British Columbia has “always been prolific in terms of trade”.
“In Manitoba, we need to be able to leverage our strengths to grow the economy instead of just looking at the size of budget spending. How are you leveraging the infrastructure to support this growth? What is your strategic plan for infrastructure investments? Do you know the status of your existing system? ” He asked.
He added that working with the private sector to improve road design, access to recyclable materials such as crushed concrete and responsible resource management should also be key priorities.
“This is the kind of stuff we think we should hear (and want) to hear from our mayoral candidates,” Lorenc said.