WINNIPEG, Man – Manitoba has “the best opportunity in a generation” to drive economic growth and that can’t be done without significant investments in infrastructure,” Manitoba’s minister of infrastructure and transport, Steve Ashton, told Manitoba Trucking Association’s annual general meeting this morning.
“Infrastructure doesn’t just follow development; infrastructure drives development ,” Ashton told the strongly attended meeting, stressing his desire that Winnipeg live up to its geographic potential as a transportation hub.
Ashton said his government has increased the amount it is spending on infrastructure by about five fold with plans to spend $5.5 billion on construction over five years. Ashton’s plan calls for:
- More than $3.7 billion to be invested in Manitoba roads, highways and bridges.
- $320 million to be invested in flood protection around the province.
- More than $1.5 billion to be invested in municipal roads, clean water and other municipal infrastructure to help meet the needs of Manitoba’s many growing communities
Of particular importance to trucking is work on Hwy75, Hwy 1 and Hwy 10. Ashton said the scheduled work on Hwy 75, which includes flood control, will bring the roadway up to true highway standards.
An increase in the provincial sales tax is helping to fund the plan but Ashton said it will be worth it, pointing out the funds would not have been available with the increase in tax revenues.
Ashton also spoke about the need to address the differences in trucking regulations across the country. He said progress has been made on spring load restrictions and RTAC weights and dimensions, however, much work still needs to be done.
“As Canadians we have to ask ourselves does it make sense to have a patchwork quilt of regulations coast to coast. Canadians should be demanding more consistency. It shouldn’t just be up to the trucking industry (to demand this),” he said.