Anatomy of a Pothole
Potholes are the bane of the existence of every Winnipeg driver. Each year, as predictable as our freeze-thaw cycle, they open their yawning chasms on streets across the city. Just as predictably, the complaints flow into 311 and City Hall about the state of the roads and that Something Must Be Done.
The lowly pothole dominates so much of the discussion, interest, and ire of Winnipeggers every year, year over year. And each year, City Hall pledges to address the plethora of potholes, putting more and more money into maintenance, pointing proudly to its record road spending ... but, poor 'peggers, the story never changes.
It is worth exploring why the bane of our city’s existence, those shattering potholes, will never
go away, no matter the money spent on road renewal. That despised pothole on your street is emblematic of the larger issues concerning where the City of Winnipeg’s priorities lie: our patterns of urban & suburban growth, investment in transit, and addressing environmental and climate challenges.
This series of essays will dissect that pothole to expose the underlying malady at the City of
Winnipeg that, unless treated and corrected, means we will be forever putting bandaids on a
symptom, while ignoring the real solutions.
Welcome to the anatomy of a pothole.
Where do we go from here?
The worn adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results could find a no better example than Winnipeg’s potholes. Year over year, the City of Winnipeg dumps more and more money into road maintenance, to no avail. Year over year, political leaders crow about a “record investment” into road maintenance. And year over year, potholes remain the bane of Winnipeg’s existence.
Our little dive into the perennial issue of potholes shows they are not the disease - they are the symptom - of a broken system. Spending more and more on trying to cover the symptoms without addressing the root causes of the problem will continue to get us nowhere.
A city's values are rooted in its budget. If Winnipeg is truly committed to combating the potholes, we expect the four-year budget to:
increase transit funding and service
seriously address the climate crisis by prioritizing its climate strategy
make active transportation a real and viable choice for more Winnipegers, for more trips
implement sustainable land use decisions and policies
make decisions with true financial understanding of how a city operates
Most of all, we expect a City Council that will stop throwing good money after bad.