“Somehow we don’t always think of Manitoba Infrastructure as being an impetus for business development, but we think it is, and we’re here to partner with you.”
According to Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler, hosted by MCC on Feb. 16 as part of our #MBPoli Power Hour web series, Manitobans will likely be very pleased with the infrastructure dollars allocated in the upcoming Budget 2021/22.
Schuler also shared with the 80 participants who took part in the Zoom discussion sponsored by the Manitoba Trucking Association and 6P Marketing that Manitoba Infrastructure definitely hasn’t been sitting idle amid COVID-19.
“We have developed a priority plan that targets three areas, and we think these give us focus and purpose for the future,” said Minister Schuler.
The department’s current 3-priority plan includes:
Lake Manitoba outlet – This is a $540 million stand-alone project that needs to happen, and was intended to have been built as a companion project to floodway construction.
“The budget for this project seems like a lot for 2 ditches but the 2011 flood is going to tap out at almost $2 billion,” Said Minister Schuler.
Investments in Economic Corridor initiative – Highway #1 transports goods and services going east-west and Highway 75 takes traffic from the City of Winnipeg south to the US. The border crossing at Emerson is the busiest border crossing is the busiest crossing after Windsor, and is a major hub for Canada.
“We’ve spent approximately $100M on Highway 1 and $50M on Highway 75, and what ties these two together is the Perimeter Highway. We are looking at some major investments in the Perimeter because we’re committed to creating an economic corridor and to enabling products of all kinds from across the province to get to market.”
Minister Schuler would like to see those highways someday gain freeway status – which means they only have bridges and would be controlled access only.
An Updated RTAC Grid across the province of Manitoba – “We would like farmers and manufacturers – no matter where you live in the province – if you can produce whatever you’re creating or growing into something instead of sending it to another country for processing, that’s better for Manitoba.” But we need to be able to get to those markets, which means that proper roads with proper width and shoulders must tie into the economic corridor. The grid would provide access for these larger projects. The province intends to solicit feedback on improvement of the system in Manitoba.
“Ideally, these three priorities can form the basis for a 5-year capital plan, which we know is a different process than we’re used to, but that approach will allow us to get the plan out as a working document in front of organizations like yours for comment and review,” added Minister Schuler. “Our budget plans don’t seem like they should be a state secret to me, and I think it is time that we implement a capital planning process so that Manitobans can see the project priorities, the queue, unexpected investments that we have to make, etc.”
“Right now, we are in the here and now of COVID-19 – and the ministries of Health, Education, and Families are on the frontlines — dealing day to day with issues. But we are also under the impression that there will be the day after tomorrow when we come out of COVID. We believe that Manitoba Infrastructure is going to be key, and I think we should be starting to talk a little more from a position of hope.”
To listen to our recording of the Feb. 16 webinar including the Q&A, click here.