Future water and wastewater investments in Manitoba will be guided by a proposed new framework that establishes a tiered approach to funding and procurement, Municipal Relations Minister Andrew Smith and Consumer Protection and Government Services Minister James Teitsma recently announced.
“Our government is committed to working collaboratively with municipalities on the shared priority of modernizing water and wastewater treatment projects in the province,” said Smith. “During the Association of Manitoba Municipalities June district meetings throughout the province, we heard water and wastewater was a top priority, and this framework will bring Manitoba’s priorities into focus, address infrastructure deficit challenges, and help build new capacity among municipal stakeholders.”
The Municipal Water and Wastewater Investment Framework establishes investment tiers for the province to clarify funding mechanisms, procurement approaches, and partnership opportunities for municipalities. The Manitoba government will structure its review and support for projects using the new framework that is informed by input from partners. This approach will categorize water and wastewater projects into three tiers according to cost, project type and scale, and potential to utilize alternative delivery and financing approaches.
In addition to the development of investment tiers, the framework increases interdepartmental co-ordination to better align policies, priorities, and operations as it relates to supporting municipal water and wastewater projects. This includes the creation of an interdepartmental task force to review current water and wastewater project intake processes for consistency and clarity.
“Water and wastewater projects are becoming increasingly complex and require a holistic approach to be successful,” said Teitsma. “The Municipal Water and Wastewater Investment Framework will improve provincial policy alignment, co-ordination, and collaboration among partners shared priorities. Our government is working to ensure that municipalities can move quickly to advance the critical infrastructure projects needed to benefit local communities, the provincial economy, and our environment.”
A growing number of water and wastewater projects are playing an increasingly important role in supporting environmental resiliency and economic growth for Manitoba, particularly in the agricultural and food processing sectors. The new framework will help to ensure there are no gaps, overlapping efforts, or inconsistencies when it comes to the work of all Manitoba government departments and stakeholders involved, the minister noted.
“As the Association of Manitoba Municipalities makes it a priority to tour across Manitoba to meet one-on-one with municipalities, it is clear that there is a great need for increased dollars to support water and wastewater infrastructure,” said Kam Blight, president, Association of Manitoba Municipalities. “Thus, the proposed Municipal Water and Wastewater Investment Framework represents a valuable addition to the toolbox, offering municipalities an extra tool to advance some water and wastewater infrastructure projects within their communities.”
A stakeholder engagement strategy will be incorporated into the framework to ensure transparent and clear communication with municipal and other partners and provide an opportunity for feedback, the ministers added.