By Chris Goertzen, Association of Manitoba Municipalities
In November 2017, Manitoba Infrastructure launched a comprehensive review of its service delivery model to solicit new ways of thinking and provide Manitoba Infrastructure with a new direction to improve our province’s infrastructure. This announcement was directly related to the provincial government’s intention, as reflected in the latest speech from the throne to:
- Implement mechanisms to ensure government spends smarter
- Streamline service delivery at the most appropriate level of government
- Get more value from plans to renew and build strategic infrastructure
- Modernize procurement of goods and services
- Plan for a public service transformation to deliver better outcomes for Manitobans
Currently, Manitoba Infrastructure has an inventory of water-related assets worth approximately $7 billion and highway infrastructure assets valued at $9 billion. In fact, there are roughly 1,150 highway structures and overpasses, 3,350 crossings over drains and 1,100 bridge sized culverts throughout Manitoba. Given the department’s scope, finding efficiencies and reducing red tape in delivering services would certainly be welcome to improve the sustainability of public infrastructure.
As the outcome of the review will rely on stakeholder input, consultations with the public, industry, municipalities and Indigenous peoples were launched in February 2018. The Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) was pleased to welcome Manitoba Infrastructure representatives to our annual Mayors, Reeves and CAOs meeting, which was held on April 10, 2018, in Brandon to hear the department’s ideas and innovations.
During this consultative session, Manitoba Infrastructure heard firsthand and discussed some of the challenges and frustrations experienced by municipalities and local government officials. The need for increased communication, addressing long delays in waiting for departmental responses and the lack of municipal autonomy were common themes. In addition, the AMM strongly advised against any sort of downloading or offloading of responsibilities to municipalities. If efficiencies can be found through revising the scope of provincial-municipal responsibilities, it is essential that provincial funding be provided to municipalities given their financial limitations.
Going forward, consultations will continue throughout the spring and summer. Manitoba Infrastructure is also expected to prepare a comprehensive report based on stakeholder feedback by September 2018, including an implementation plan. If CARM members and stakeholders are interested in sharing their perspective regarding Manitoba’s Infrastructure’s Service Delivery Model Review, they’re encouraged to contact Rich Danis, director of transportation policy at Manitoba Infrastructure, at 204-945-0800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Goertzen is the president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities and Mayor of the City of Steinbach. He also currently represents Canada’s 18 provincial-territorial associations on the executive committee of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Board of Directors.
Cover photo: disorderly / 123RF Stock Photo