June 11, 2012
Feds start consultations on new long-term infrastructure funding plan
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is supporting a new federal government initiative to consult with stakeholders and extend a long-term plan for investment in public infrastructure beyond 2014.
“As a former mayor himself, Minister (Denis) Lebel understands the challenges of municipalities and how important it is for federal, municipal, provincial and territorial governments to work together in a spirit of partnership and collaboration to build the foundations Canada needs to strengthen its economy and protect the quality of life of its citizens,” said FCM president Berry Vrbanovic.
His statement followed a speech by Lebel, the minister of infrastructure, transport and communities, which he gave to a group of municipal leaders at the 75th Annual Conference of the FCM in Saskatoon earlier this month.
“I am pleased to announce today that we will begin the roundtable phase of our engagement process,” he said during his speech.
“Over the next several weeks, Minister Steven Fletcher and I will be traveling across the country to hold in-depth and constructive discussions with our partners and stakeholders on the next long-term plan.”
According to Lebel, these discussions will consist of nine regional roundtables: one in each Western province, Ontario and Quebec, one in the North, and two in Eastern Canada.
The federal government also plans to meet in Ottawa with representatives from the private sector. The meetings are designed to outline the broad principles and direction for a new plan.
The $33 billion Building Canada Plan, which was introduced in Budget 2007, was Canada’s first-ever long-term infrastructure plan.
The federal government is working on a plan to replace this program, as the funding agreement expires in March 2014.
As a result, the FCM launched a campaign called Target 2014: Building our Future at its annual conference. It aims to mobilize its members to ensure their priorities are reflected in any new funding agreements.
“The last few years have seen important federal investments in our communities that have helped slow the rate of decline and given us hope for our future,” said Vrbanovic.
“But now, as March 2014 approaches, Canada is at a tipping point; either we continue moving forward with the job of re-building or we fall further behind as crumbling roads, traffic gridlock and sky-high housing prices cost our economy jobs and growth.”
The campaign is designed to encourage municipalities to tell the stories about the state of their communities and the important role that federal funding plays in their development.
It is set to run until the spring of 2013, when the FCM expects the next budget to outline the federal government’s approach to federal-provincial funding agreements.
FCM hopes to mobilize the 2,000 municipalities and thousands of local officials that make up its membership to remind members of Parliament about the importance of vibrant cities and communities to economic growth and prosperity.
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