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Citizens Information Service
Public Works

Local Improvement Program for gravel back lanes

On July 19, 2018, City Council extended for an additional 6 years a pilot project whereby the City of Winnipeg will finance asphalt lane paving local improvements to the maximum of 50% of the total cost of the improvement. The City has capped support for this program to $1,000,000 per year or approximately 8 to 10 lanes. Funding is provided on a first come first served basis determined by submission of a successful formal "Petition For" (must be an official petition form provided by the City). Similar to concrete lane improvements, the included catchbasins and land drainage sewers are fully covered by the City.

The estimated cost of an asphalt lane pavement is about 25% less than concrete pavement and with the City subsidizing 50% of the cost, the benefitting property owners will be able to obtain a paved asphalt lane at less than ½ the cost of a concrete lane.

Estimated rates available here.


As per "Amendment to Policy with respect to Granular Surface Roadways," adopted by Council on Jan 20, 1988. The City will carry out only those works necessary to keep gravel lanes passable. These works consist of basic grading only and the addition of materials (gravel, asphalt chippings) to fill isolated low soft spots. This will not keep the gravel lane in a comparable condition to that which it existed in when it was first constructed.

Inherent drainage problems

Unlike "paved lanes" (with centre-line drainage and catch basins) or "graveled streets" (which are edged with ditches to transport run-off away from the street and adjacent properties without significantly harming the road surface), "graveled lanes" do not incorporate an intended drainage function. This can be problematic, given that the lot grading pattern on properties adjacent to many of these lanes is split drainage, thus requiring these lanes to provide for disposing of run-off (whether intended for this purpose or not). When water drains from adjacent properties onto a "graveled lane," it becomes wet, malleable, and easily damaged by vehicular traffic, especially by larger utility vehicles and garbage trucks. In numerous cases, the canopies of mature trees shade graveled lanes, leaving many lanes wet and malleable for long periods of time.

Improvement options

Several options to improve a granular lane are available as local improvements. See more information on the Local Improvement Program as well as estimated local improvement rates for some improvement options.


Oiling consists of a thin surface treatment of small graded aggregate placed on an asphalt emulsion (oil) which is sprayed on a prepared gravel surface. Oiling results in a relatively smooth surface somewhat asphaltic in appearance. This relatively in-expensive local improvement treatment is expected to last 3- 5 years. It is effective for dust control. As no drainage function is incorporated, weather conditions play a major role in life span. After a few years the surface tends to break up with the formation of potholes. Corrective action would then require another oiling treatment again as a local improvement. Alternatively the surface may be pulverized and graded returning it to a gravel-like state at no cost to the benefitting properties.


While the cost of paving is substantial, so are the benefits and life expectancy. In consideration of the costs, benefitting property owners are able to amortize the cost over a ten (10) year term for asphalt pavements and a twenty (20) year term for concrete pavements. With catch basins and connections to sewers included with paving, this is the only option that fully addresses drainage. Currently the City subsidizes 50% of the cost of Asphalt paving and 100% of the cost for the land drainage sewers and associated components.

Currently the costs of renewing and the on-going maintenance costs of paved lanes are funded by the City at large.

Improved and unimproved gravel lanes

Improved gravel lanes

  • Are gravel lanes that exist in legally open lane right-of-ways which have been improved to granular lanes. These lanes are maintained by the City in accordance with adopted City policy as previously described.

Unimproved gravel lanes:

  • Gravel lanes that exist in lane right-of-ways that may or may not be legally opened right-of-ways. Usually only a small portion of the lane has gravel which was placed by private property owners. The City does not maintain these lanes. In some cases barricades/signage will be erected to discourage travel.
  • Unimproved lanes that are legally opened right-of-ways are the responsibility of the Public Works Department.
  • Unimproved lanes that are not legally opened right-of-ways are the responsibility of the Planning & Property Development Department.

Last update: September 24, 2019

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