Call Referendum on Infrastructure Tax

Article excerpt

Mayor Sam Katz didn't have much by way of news to tell Winnipeggers in his state of the city address before the Chamber of Commerce Friday, so he did a lot of recapping of what's been done. The most obvious, outstanding item, however, is yawning before us ever wider as the spring thaw has its way with streets, lanes and sidewalks, opening crevices and potholes.

They are but the most evident symptom of the city's multibillion-dollar infrastructure deficit, which grows each year. The mayor noted the city, in its budget, dedicated one per cent of the 3.87 per cent property-tax hike to street renewal and would do that annually from now on. Streets are but a slice of the capital renewals required.

For years, Mr. Katz and various economic and industry groups have called for the provincial government to dedicate a stream of revenue -- one percentage point of the provincial sales tax -- to the infrastructure deficit. The Selinger government has refused, but has added more cash to transfers.

A one percentage point hike to the PST would raise $262 million a year, which would go some way to fixing the rotting or crumbling buildings, roads, pipes and playgrounds in Manitoba, estimated now at $11 billion. Mr. Katz has said he would support raising the PST, if it was confirmed in a referendum. …