The head of Manitoba's municipal lobby group says Tuesday's provincial infrastructure funding boost is good news.
The Manitoba government announced it is contributing an extra $10 million in unconditional operating funding to rural municipalities to help support critical infrastructure needs like roads and bridges.
Ralph Groening, President of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM), believes the move is in response to a resolution supported by some 120 AMM members lobbying for an improved municipal road and bridge program.
"We are very pleased the province has acknowledged our needs and our request," he said.
"We feel, and the province has acknowledged, that municipalities know their infrastructure needs. There's never enough money but this is going to be a step forward in finding a way to manage the financial infrastructure costs that municipalities are responsible for," added Groening.
This $10 million will be added to the basket funding that has been available to municipalities since 2017. It will be doled out based on population thresholds which the province says will give all local governments an equitable share.
"The increase to the municipal baskets demonstrates continued efforts by our government to further streamline grant funding provided to municipalities," said Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton. "This additional funding reduces red tape and enhances the flexibility given to local governments on how to best invest provincial funding for important municipal services and local priorities, including road infrastructure."
Groening added this extra money is available to municipalities immediately and offers flexibility in how it is spent.
"There is no application required. There is no criteria as to how you use the money. You can stack it, you can use it to contribute to your municipal contribution (through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program). You can save it like you can with the Federal Gas Tax and use it for a larger infrastructure project if it is the desire of the council," he explained.
"Ensuring that municipalities receive predictable, stable funding has been a priority for our government," added Wharton. "The increase to the municipal baskets will allow municipalities to efficiently plan for future infrastructure projects while also maximizing their time during construction seasons."