Fire Paramedic Station Sod Turning

On short notice, and with great support from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, we held a sod turning event to kick off construction of the new portable / modular fire paramedic station in Waverley West. I very much appreciate all levels of government attending. I will admit, I was perhaps overly passionate about sharing my ‘delay frustrations’  – but I know I very clearly represented the feelings of Waverley West constituents to the Premier, Mayor and MP.  (See speech)

We’ve waited a long time for this very critical piece of infrastructure.

Thank you Winnipeg Free Press for covering the event:

Show us the money: Lukes appeals for more funding from province, feds

By: Joyanne Pursaga Posted: 5:01 PM CDT Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2024

A Winnipeg city councillor issued a blunt plea for a new funding model for cities Tuesday, as officials from three governments broke ground on a new temporary fire-paramedic hall in her ward.

Coun. Janice Lukes, who represents the rapidly growing Waverley West ward, urged members of the provincial and federal governments to help Winnipeg secure sustainable and predictable funding. “As you know, the southwest corner of Winnipeg has been the fastest-growing area in the city for the past 10 years… The sad fact of the matter is we should have been standing here five years ago, doing this sod-turning for a fire hall,” said Lukes.

The temporary fire-paramedic hall is just one of many critical pieces of infrastructure — along with roads, sewage treatment and recreation facilities — that the city is expected to fund to support population growth despite claiming a very small share of the tax-dollar pie, said Lukes. “The allocation of one tax dollar is shocking. It’s 10 cents for the City of Winnipeg, 40 cents for the Province of Manitoba and 50 cents for the federal government … The current tax allocation, the funding model for cities, absolutely will not support Canada’s current immigration policies and that does not bode well for the future. Each and every one of us should be concerned about that,” Lukes said.

The councillor stressed repeatedly that immigration is essential for Canada’s growth and workforce, while noting cities desperately need more resources to supply the infrastructure to support it. “I love growth, I love immigration, but when it comes at such a rapid pace… I don’t think (the current funding model is) fair,” said Lukes.

The councillor made the comments as the city, province and federal government marked the beginning of construction on a $6.8-million temporary fire-paramedic hall at 130 Eaglewood Dr. The temporary station is expected to open in November 2024, while a permanent station is expected to open in 2026 at Bison Drive and Ruth Crossing.  The federal government provided $1.3 million for the hall, while the province committed $3.4 million to add 40 new firefighters to staff it this year.

When asked about Lukes’ funding plea and the many councillors and mayors who’ve made similar requests before her, Premier Wab Kinew told reporters his government is committed to collaborating on the issue. “We’ll just start with the conversation with city administration. We have an excellent working relationship with Mayor Gillingham and we’ll just take it from there,” said Kinew.

In its recently released budget, the provincial government promised to work with cities on a new multi-year funding model. Mayor Scott Gillingham said he agrees with much of what Lukes said, noting he has made similar requests. “Coun. Lukes articulated the frustrations that I think some municipalities have faced. I’ve said similar things. I was really pleased to see the premier announce in this budget his commitment for dialogue with the City of Winnipeg… to establish a new funding formula,” said Gillingham.

The mayor had asked the province to provide a type of “growth” funding in which revenue would increase alongside economic activity. As an example, he noted that could be provided through a share of the provincial sales tax.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca