Canada's crumbling infrastructure was top of mind at an annual gathering of 1,800 mayors, councillors and municipal managers held this weekend in Vancouver.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) says municipalities in Canada now face a $200 billion "infrastructure deficit." It adds that, while municipalities receive only 8% of tax revenue, they are responsible for 60% of the country's infrastructure.
Denis Lebel, federal minister of transport, announced $53 billion in new funding over 10 years in an address to the FCM on Saturday. The money includes:
- $32.2 billion, consisting of an indexed gas tax fund and the increased GST rebate intended for roads, public transit, recreational facilities and other community infrastructure;
- $14 billion for major economic infrastructure projects that have national and regional significance; and
- $1.25 billion to continue finding innovative ways to build infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships.
Lebel also stated that the gas tax fund would not be earmarked for public transit projects, but would be available for a wide range of infrastructure projects, including transit.
"Municipal leaders were very pleased to hear the minister reiterate the government's promise that it will be ready to invest in new local projects during the 2014 construction season," said outgoing FCM president Karen Leibovici
"We look forward to learning more details about how the government will work with FCM to design new funding programs."
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair promised to devote one additional cent from the federal gas tax to increase funding for public transit by $420 million a year. He also called for more stable and predictable infrastructure funding.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Green party leader Elizabeth May also spoke at the conference.