WEST ST. PAUL – The federal and provincial governments have approved 27 infrastructure projects, focusing on water treatment and public transit.
Representatives from all levels of government joined together to make the announcement today at the public works building in West St. Paul.
Today’s announcement concerned Phase 1 of what the Liberals are calling their ‘Investing in Canada’ plan. Phase 2, to be tabled sometime in 2017, will likely focus on roads.
The funding for the projects will be broken up 50-25-25: half of the money comes from Ottawa, a quarter from the province and the remaining quarter from municipalities.
In Winnipeg, the focus is mostly on transit. Roughly $37-million of funding will help expand bus maintenance space, something that will be music to the ears of transit union boss John Callahan.
About $35-million will also be allotted to purchase new buses. The city had problems keeping a fleet of used buses on the road last fall.
“We all know there’s been some struggles on the city’s side with buses, so I think this is really going to help,” says Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid, whose jurisdiction includes Phase II of bus rapid transit. “If we’re going to fight climate change, if we’re going to fight gridlock and traffic, we need to get people out of cars and into buses. I think this is a really big step.”
23 of the 27 projects concern rehabbing and improving community water and wastewater systems. $49-million of federal money will help fund projects with the province chipping in $24.5-million. Roughly $4.5-million combined will go to help West St. Paul.
“We’ve long been concerned in this community, over 70 years, that we need West St. Paul to have in place a safe water supply for current and future generations,” explains mayor Bruce Henley. “That’s why we’re so pleased with the announcement of the reservoir today.”
Of the 23 projects, the biggest chunk of funding is going to build a new water treatment plant in the RM of Russell-Binscarth; they’re receiving about $10-million in combined funding.
“These are really important projects. We see that municipalities are going to be paying eight per cent less on these projects than they would have previously, or even 25 per cent less if many of these had only been funded by the province and municipalities,” says Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen. “We think it’s progress and we’re pleased to see this today.”
Goertzen is also the president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, and has long pushed for the province to chip in a bigger amount to help pay for projects.
“We recognize that the provincial government is in a financial situation that they’re trying to get out of,” he said today. “As their situation improves, we’re going to continue to look to see that percentage change.”
Goertzen was also asked about the success of the Steinbach Pride Parade, which he did not attend because he was away. He did not provide much of a response, repeating the adage that “it’s important to see people being treated with respect every day.”