The City of Morden is supporting a resolution that the City of Winkler is presenting at the Association of Manitoba Municipality's (AMM) Central District meeting this month. The motion asks AMM members to rally the federal and provincial governments to adjust their contribution to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICP) and cover their portion of increased project costs.
Morden mayor, Brandon Burley, said the City's support comes from its inability to afford the cost of projected growth of the community, stating there is a need for funding partners to help support the Pembina Valley as an economic engine for the Province of Manitoba. He pointed to Morden's portion of the regional wastewater project.
"The cost of wastewater has gone up so exponentially, that in order for us to carry it ourselves, just the overages at this point, the addition to our utility rate would become, ironically, a Catch 22, because this is a growth-related cost, but the rates we'd have to charge in order to accommodate the wastewater facility would ensure that we would cap growth. So, growth simply wouldn't happen as a consequence of what we'd have to charge our residents for sewer and water."
Burley said this puts the City of Morden into a holding pattern and would stop all economic development, the further purchase of industrial land, and new people from moving into the community.
"The reason we support it is because we do know what's coming for this region, and on both ends of the water supply, whether it is water or wastewater, we're coming up against real and immediate challenges. They will have actual impacts on the economy of the Province of Manitoba and our regions. Obviously, in that situation we'd have to do the best we could, but it's not an ideal situation. It's not even a Plan C for us, but there is no Plan B, right now."
He continued to say the situation doesn't have a lot of time. Morden is looking at a 2-year window, not 5-years, for its wastewater upgrades as it has already maxed out on its environmental license and the Province has already shut them down before.
When considering Morden funding its portion of the gap in funding alone, Burley said it's bleak.
"Which would mean no borrowing, no new infrastructure, no major projects until I'm 75 years old. There's no way I would ever put my children and grandchildren into a community where that was a scenario, and I would never expect to put our own members of this community in that situation, it's not a viable one and it's not responsible. So, we will continue to try to act responsibly in this case, and we hope that we find willing and eager partners in growth."
The AMM Central District meeting will be held on June 15th at Winkler Bible Camp where a discussion with the Honourable Eileen Clarke, Minister Manitoba Municipal Relations and AMM President, Kam Blight is on the agenda, along with resolutions and debate and other items