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News Releases

February 19, 2013

Winnipeg Police Pension Plan members will not allow solvency exemption
All other civic unions have member support for exemption

Released: 12:33 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB - As a result of the Winnipeg Police Pension Plan members’ refusal to allow a solvency exemption, the City of Winnipeg will be obligated to make annual payments to the plan in an estimated amount of $26 million each year for 5 years. Rather than raising property taxes to fund this contribution, the City has chosen to proceed with a letter of credit option, as provided by provincial legislation.

The Winnipeg Police Pension Plan (WPPP) was one of the public sector pension plans eligible for solvency exemption under the Province of Manitoba’s Solvency Exemption for Public Sector Pension Plans Regulation.

Without a solvency exemption, the City of Winnipeg’s contribution to the police pension plan must increase by approximately $26 million in 2013, for a total of $130 million over the next five years. This would be the equivalent of a 5.65% property tax increase each year for the next 5 years, equating to a 28% accumulated property tax increase.

"We’re disappointed that the plan members didn’t approve the solvency exemption,” said Chief Administrative Officer Phil Sheegl. "We proposed it in order to be consistent with other large public sector pension plans in Manitoba and across Canada, and to minimize the impact on taxpayers. Given the circumstances, we are recommending issuing a letter of credit.”

In a 2011 report approved by Council, it was recognized that the City of Winnipeg would be unlikely to default on its obligations, and a request for exemption of solvency funding requirements was determined to be reasonable and appropriate.

The request for election of exemption was a move consistent with the approach taken by other large public sector pension plans, such as the Winnipeg Civic Employees’ Pension Plan. Other major Canadian police pension plans, such as the Regina Police Pension Plan and the Saskatoon Police Pension Plan, also have a solvency exemption in place.

The Winnipeg Police Service is one of the only major police forces in Canada that does not already have a solvency exemption in place.

"In order to meet the increased cost of funding the Winnipeg Police Pension Plan, the Public Service has prepared a report recommending that the City obtain a letter of credit,” said Chief Financial Officer Mike Ruta. "This is one of the options authorized by provincial regulation, and is cost-effective for the citizens of Winnipeg.”

As a result of the WPPP members’ vote, the City of Winnipeg must obtain a letter of credit from a financial institution, to be reviewed annually.

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City of Winnipeg and Rural Municipality of West St. Paul enter into first-of-its-kind sewer service sharing agreement
Agreement provides additional revenues to the City and a cost-effective sustainable wastewater plan for the municipality

Released: 2:11 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB - The City of Winnipeg has entered into a service sharing agreement with West St. Paul that will allow wastewater from the Rural Municipality to be treated at the City’s North End sewage treatment plant. This is the first time the City of Winnipeg has partnered with a neighbouring community for sewage collection and treatment.

The agreement, signed earlier this month, is a win-win for residents of both communities. Winnipeg residents benefit through increased sewer revenues and revenue sharing and West St. Paul residents will have a viable solution for a sustainable wastewater plan.

"This gives us new revenue to invest in the City’s sewer infrastructure and direct revenue sharing into our Regional Roads Capital budget, says Deepak Joshi, City of Winnipeg's Chief Operating Officer. "We have the capacity within our existing sewer infrastructure and treatment facility to assist a neighbouring community and this innovative partnership paves the way for future agreements with other neighbouring municipalities."

"West St. Paul is very fortunate to get the opportunity to partner with the City Of Winnipeg," says Brent Olynyk, Chief Administrative Officer of the Rural Municipality of West St. Paul. "The vision and cooperation of both West St. Paul and City of Winnipeg Councils allows us to move forward to provide an essential service that will sustain our community in the long term. With the assistance of our provincial and federal partners, we are able to take a huge step forward in helping protect the Red River and Lake Winnipeg."

The existing wastewater management system in the Rural Municipality of West St. Paul is faced with many challenges, including:

  • difficulty meeting evolving environmental regulations with existing sewage treatment facilities,
  • an increase in failing septic fields,
  • provincial regulations in the Red River Corridor prohibiting the installation of new on-site septic fields and requiring existing septic fields to be decommissioned and replaced with holding tanks.

The West St. Paul Wastewater Project is comprised of multiple phases.  Phase 1 is a $16 million project to install a gravity main trunk sewer pipe to connect to Winnipeg’s existing sewer system and ultimately to the City’s North End sewage treatment plant. Future phases of the project will also benefit neighbouring municipalities.

The Municipality secured initial funding of $10 million made up of an $8 million joint investment from the Government of Canada and Province of Manitoba through the Building Canada Fund - Communities Component program, and $2 million from the Manitoba Water Services Board.

Wastewater could begin flowing to the City’s North End sewage treatment plant as early as 2014. The Municipality will owe the following fees to the City of Winnipeg:

  • the current sewer rate (the same rate charged to Winnipeg sewer ratepayers),
  • a one-time connection charge, and
  • an annual participation fee.

In December 2005, Winnipeg City Council directed the Chief Administrative Officer to identify inter-municipal service sharing opportunities through an Expression of Interest process, and that the following five principles be used to guide the process, to ensure that service sharing agreements:

  • are government to government;
  • are consistent with the City's existing and future capacity to provide the service;
  • are founded on a strong business case to ensure the efficient delivery of the service in the region;
  • incorporate a joint planning agreement to manage development and related environmental concerns; and
  • include a provision for tax/revenue sharing.

Particularly since 2005, steps have been taken towards strengthening cooperation among the Capital Region municipalities, including more effort on communication and establishing relationships, and support toward regional service sharing as well as joint land use planning. This direction aligns with the OurWinnipeg Plan and the Complete Communities strategy document approved by Council.

The Rural Municipality of West St. Paul is inviting their residents to attend an open house on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, and Tuesday, March 5, 2013, from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Sunova Centre, 48 Holland Road. More detailed project information is available on the West St. Paul website.

Last update: 21.02.2013

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