Halton Hills, On – Councillor Clark Somerville joined other members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Board of Directors in calling on the Federal Government to fix serious gaps in the design of the New Building Canada Fund. Those gaps could put much-needed infrastructure investments in Halton Hills at risk.
Councillor Somerville, who is also the third vice-president of FCM, issued the call in Thunder Bay, following a meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) Board of Directors from March 5-8.
“Halton Hills welcomed the federal government’s investment in the New Building Canada Fund, the longest and largest infrastructure program in Canadian history,” said Councillor Somerville. “But it is critical that these gaps be addressed so that the program can meet the needs of this community over the next decade and give our residents the best value for money.”
Councillor Somerville joined other board members in calling on the Federal Government to work with local leaders to address flaws in the design of the BCF and to work to prevent similar concerns from emerging in the future by improving the quality of federal consultations with local governments.
In 2012-2013, consultations between federal and local governments led to ground-breaking federal infrastructure investments, including a commitment to a new 10-year, $14 billion Building Canada Fund (BCF), a two per cent annual index of the federal gas tax transfer, and a pledge to work with FCM on the detailed design and rollout of the plan. However, a lack of meaningful program design consultations followed and there was inadequate study and discussion of the issues. This left important concerns with the New Building Canada Fund unaddressed and important questions unanswered.
Municipalities like Halton Hills own the vast majority of Canada’s roads, water systems, public transit and other core infrastructure, but to date they have received no clear indication that a fair share of the new BCF will be invested in vital future municipal The new BCF’s funding rules further reduce local flexibility by eliminating core infrastructure categories from eligibility, such as local roads.
“It’s not too late for the federal government to work together with us to resolve these issues,” added Mayor Rick Bonnette. “It is our joint responsibility to do so. This community counts on its federal representatives to work with local leaders to make informed decisions that serve the people of Halton Hills and get the most out of every tax dollar.”