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Rural municipalities decry infrastructure program end

The Municipal Road and Bridge Program will be sorely missed by local governments

Municipal leaders are up in arms over unexpected provincial cuts to a crucial program that helps pay for road and bridge repairs.

A record number of councils backed a resolution condemning the end of the Municipal Road and Bridge Program at the Association of Manitoba Municipalities annual convention last week.

The often-spirited discussion could have continued for hours, had all 102 out of 137 councils supporting the call taken the floor.

They say they’re now on the hook for the full cost of repairs after the province announced the end of the program suddenly this summer, after spending only $2.5 million in 2018, compared to the $14 million spent in 2018.

City of Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson told the annual convention of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities his community — and others across the province — only learned they’d lose the funding this summer, after already signing construction contracts.

“The road and bridge program has been used to add to essential infrastructure or do repairs on essential infrastructure,” Johannson said.

The program has been in place for several years and was valued for its simplicity and ease of access.

“In our case we’d been getting $400,000 a year which we matched to put up $800,000,” said Johannson. “We didn’t get quite $80,000 this year. It paid for one street.”

The RM of Morris received no money at all.

“We were going to repair roads in the community of Sperling,” said the municipality’s reeve, Ralph Groening, who last week also became AMM’s president.

“So we filled the potholes. That’s how we were impacted by the elimination of the program.”

For more on this topic, see the upcoming Dec. 6 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator.

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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