August 2, 2012
Federation of Canadian Municipalities says federal government must be ready to act on infrastructure
As the last of the of the federal government’s infrastructure roundtables wrapped up in Regina earlier this week, the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) said the government must be ready to act on what it has learned.
“During the past month, more than 100 business, non-profit and government representatives have come together in every region of the country,” said FCM president Karen Leibovici.
“They discussed how the new federal infrastructure plan must be designed to meet on-the-ground challenges and support new jobs, a strong economy, and a high quality of life for all Canadians.”
The current long-term infrastructure fund, Building Canada, the first of its kind in the nation, is set to expire in 2014 and the federal government has committed to a dedicated infrastructure fund moving forward. The current plan dedicates $2 billion a year in federal funding to infrastructure. Transport, infrastructure and communities minister Denis Lebel and minister of state Steven Fletcher travelled the country engaging provinces, territories and municipalities through municipal associations, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and other key stakeholder groups, in a discussion about the infrastructure needs of the nation.
FCM highlighted three important principles that were discussed in the roundtables.
The first is securing the nation’s economic foundations. The FCM described this as ensuring that cities and communities can repair aging crumbling roads, bridges, water system and public transit while building and maintaining the new infrastructure Canada needs to have to compete in the global economy.
“That means putting a fair share of the taxes that Canadians pay back into the communities where they live, and designing flexible funding programs that recognize the distinct needs of different regions and communities,” said Leibovici.
Bringing in the Building Canada plan in 2007 helped repair the country’s core infrastructure while fighting the recession and FCM hopes to see a plan that will protect those gains.
“The new infrastructure plan must build on these gains by<0x2026>indexing federal investments to protect their long-term value; and designing longer-lasting funding programs for projects, from water treatment plants to subway expansions, that are built, financed, and maintained over decades, not years,” said Leibovici.
The new long-term plan must confront the new and growing challenges that are threatening Canada’s economy, says the FCM. It highlights the over $20 billion price-tag of meeting new federal wastewater standards; growing traffic gridlock and inadequate public transit; and adapting municipal roads, bridges and water systems to extreme weather caused by a changing climate.
“Meeting these challenges will require a new commitment by all orders of government to secure, sustainable investments, better infrastructure management, and new partnerships with the private sector where they make sense and benefit Canadians,” she said.
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