Why a Winnipeg city councillor is worried fewer roads will get fixed this year

WINNIPEG — Winnipeg’s deputy mayor is worried fewer roads will get fixed this year for the money available.

Coun. Markus Chambers says a new standard around street construction is pushing prices up and the construction industry is pushing back. He says it’s driving up construction costs by 30 per cent.

The city has, in part, used property tax hikes for the last seven years to spend record amounts on roads, but Chambers worries fewer streets could get fixed this year.

“It’s costing more money, less roads are being done and then the environmental impact,” says Chambers.

Chambers says city specifications for 2020 mandate no recycled concrete can be used as a base for concrete road construction.

He says construction companies are telling him that using a different base will drive up the price of construction by 30 per cent, meaning fewer roads can be done with the dollars available and the recycled concrete could end up in the landfill.

“There’s been significant pushback from the industry with respect to the cost that would be increased,” Chambers says.

Chambers wants the city to put the brakes on the specifications for now and find a compromise.

“Wait a year, do some testing and then come back with something that’s more amenable that will give us the amount of roads that we have budgeted for,” he says.

The city’s infrastructure chair, Coun. Matt Allard, believes the new specifications are an attempt to standardize road work and improve the longevity of Winnipeg streets.

Still, Allard says, he’ll work with Chambers towards a potential solution.

“If it was 30 per cent more expensive up front and it meant we had a road forever you know there’s that cost-benefit analysis that has to be done and we need to make sure we’re making the right decision for taxpayers,” Allard says.

Chambers is bringing forward a motion to city council next week.

If all goes well, it will be referred to the infrastructure committee for discussion and study. Allard says he’ll work with Chambers on that.