It has recently been reported that the City of Winnipeg is reporting a $14.2 million dollar surplus in its general revenue for the 2017-18 annual budget. Many people don’t know but if the if the General Revenue Fund reports a surplus at year-end, it will be transferred to the Financial Stabilization Reserve. That fund is called the rainy day fund and is “a pot of money set aside to ensure the city is capable of dealing with unforeseen financial hardship.” There was also news about Winnipeg transit having a surplus of 12.8 million dollars as well – the transit surplus is calculated separately and doesn’t impact the $14.2 million General Revenue Fund surplus. That is a total of $27 million dollars in revenue surplus for Winnipeg – how would you spend it?

4 Ideas for Winnipeg City Council

With all this money surplus flying around, I think it is important for us to think about what we need as citizens of Winnipeg, and what would make our community safer and our families more healthy.

  1. Direct funds towards addressing the meth crisis – Recently we had Alfgier from Iceland come in to the city and share some of the successes that they have seen reducing harmful substance use among youth (read more here). Dollars could be used to improve access to recreation services, improve data collection and dissemination and more! There are also awesome initiatives like AYO!’s 13 Moons Harm Reduction initiative that could always use additional partnership, resources and support.
  2. Let Our Relatives InHow about no one dies on the streets this winter in Winnipeg? The city could choose to open their community centres overnight as warming stations, or they could support fantastic causes like 1JustCity. These folks have been doing this awesome work for the last number of years and are still on need of funding and volunteers.
  3. Support the Circle of Life Thunderbird House – the year of reconciliation came and went, and still no long term funding announcement or tax/property levy relief has been announced for the Circle of Life Thunderbird House. It’s not too late for the city to take it’s own advice on reconciliation and support this organization that serves Indigenous people in Winnipeg so well. Can you imagine what would happen with a little more support from the city?
  4. Improve Winnipeg Transit – Seeing as how there is so much surplus in transit, I think they should lower the fare to make it more accessible to more people. I also think they should pay the Bear clan patrol to be on the bus for safety and helper reasons aka Bears on buses. The other thing that could be done is to increase frequency of service so there are more buses on the routes that we currently have!

What would you spend the surpluses on? Should we just be sending these dollars into the rainy day fund, or do we have some urgent needs that we could easily start addressing today? I am looking forward to the leadership from Winnipeg city council on directing these funds responsibly!

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