728 x 90

City steps back from assisting province

img

There could be a rough ride on some Dauphin thoroughfares this winter, as the City and the Province butt heads over snow clearing.
Several streets in Dauphin are owned by the province - Main Street from Whitmore Avenue to River Avenue, River Avenue from Main Street to Bond Street, First Avenue NE from Main Street to Mountain Road, Second Avenue NW from Main Street to Second Street NW and the Mall Service Road - and snow clearing on those streets is now the responsibility of Manitoba Infrastructure (MI) after the City decided it would no longer clean up snow on their behalf.
The decision comes as a result of changes in the way the province reimburses Dauphin for the use of its equipment and personnel, city manager Sharla Griffiths said.
“Two winters ago they came to us and said, ‘technically we are paying you without a contract and we need to make up a formal contract and without it just being an open chequebook. We need to have a formula.’ So they came up with a formula based upon the number of centimetres of snow that fell at the airport,” she said, adding up until two winters ago, the City would maintain provincial roadways and invoice the province, which would pay for the work done.
“In theory it sounded fine, so we agreed to one year, that would be the winter of 2018-19. And it turns out we lost about $20,000.”
In an effort to rectify the situation the City approach MI to renegotiate the agreement and were informed the province planned to further cut the compensation it was offering.
“Last year we took $20,000 of taxpayers’ money to clean provincial roads and we don’t want to take even more of it. That’s not fair for our taxpayers,” Griffiths said, adding the snow clearing issues is just another indication of offloading by the province in its attempts to balance its books.
“We did have a talk at the council level about all the different things that have been downloaded to municipalities like the Dutch Elm Disease tree removal. They do pay us some, but it does not cover it all. Another one we are discussing at the AMM level, the provincial level, is the provincial government has not increased our municipal operating grants since 2016. So we are operating under more and more pressure from the province to use taxpayer dollars to do things.”
Griffiths added the City will still be responsible for clearing parking lanes on the provincial roads, but is unsure what that will look like at this point.
“But I would expect we will provide the level of service for the parking lanes that we have been providing up to now.”
Griffiths is asking concerns regarding the maintenance and condition of the provincially-owned streets be directed to the MI regional director at 204-622-2061.