Council asking feds to transfer guaranteed transit infrastructure funding towards wastewater project

Thompson city council approved a plan to try to move some infrastructure funding originally earmarked for transit to a different project at their Oct. 5 meeting.

The money comes from the federal-provincial Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program  (ICIP) Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS). Thompson is guaranteed $896,489 over a 10-year period for public transit projects but is requesting that half of that amount, about $448,000, be directed instead towards a water and wastewater main renewal project submitted to the ICIP’s Green Infrastructure Stream (GIS).

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The province convinced the federal government to allow Manitoba communities with guaranteed transit infrastructure funding to move it to the green project stream because that stream is oversubscribed with funding requests. Moving the funding doesn’t mean the federal government will approve the water and wastewater main renewal project and council has worded the transfer request in a way to ensure that it can only go toward that project.

“We had a long discussion at finance [committee] and the way we arrived at 50 per cent was the fact that we are getting new transit buses and we would hope they would last quite a long time,” said deputy mayor Les Ellsworth. “We didn’t want to put the whole fund over, even though we certainly could use it for the wastewater. We couldn’t leave the city vulnerable if there was something to happen with the transit. There’s a lot of work to be done with wastewater in Thompson. We’re not moving that fast and we need to move faster.”

Coun. Duncan Wong was the only councillor at the meeting (Coun. Brian Lundmark was not in attendance) to vote against the resolution.

“There’s no guarantee we get $448,000 back to the wastewater main renewal, am I right?” he asked city manager Anthony McInnis.

“Those dollars, we’re not saying we’re giving them up,” said McInnis. “We’re saying we’ll only give them up if they go to this specific project.”

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