Atlantic Mayors Congress has concerns over infrastructure program criteria

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CHARLOTTETOWN – The Atlantic Mayors Congress, meeting this week in Charlottetown, passed a resolution on the New Building Canada Fund (NBCF), outlining the mayor’s concerns regarding what funds are available towards municipal projects and what eligibility requirements are attached to these funds. 

 

Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart

The mayors say there wasn’t enough public consultation on the part of Ottawa in developing this fund.

Municipalities across Atlantic Canada want to work with their federal and provincial governments to address the concerns. The hold up on getting answers answers regarding  this new fund raises concerns about how the delay will negatively affect local economies.

“That’s what we talked for hours on,” said Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart. “It was unanimous from the Atlantic mayors that we’re concerned. But I’m hearing, in regards to Prince Edward Island, that it (the agreement between P.E.I. and the federal government) may be signed within a month. That’s what the word is but we’ll have to confirm that with the federal minister for infrastructure and the provincial minister. The resolution is they (federal government) wanted to make some changes in regards to what’s available (for funding) and what’s not available.”

 According to the resolution passed by the Atlantic Mayors’ Congress, the funding rules under the New Build Canada Fund (NBCF) reduce local flexibility by eliminating core infrastructure categories from eligibility such as local roads, culture and tourism, sport and recreational infrastructure.

“As it stands right now, those are not included,” the Summerside mayor said. “That’s what the stumbling block is. We‘re going to pursue that to the nth degree. I think with some meetings we can, hopefully, get it sorted out. There are some questions about recreation facilities and those other kinds of things.”

 Stewart said he thinks the proposed new fire hall for Summerside would meet the criteria and qualify for funding under the federal program.

The congress is also calling on Ottawa to identify dedicated investments to help municipalities meet the new federal wastewater regulations. These upgrades will be costly and are estimated to be $20 billion nationwide.

“The wastewater regulations are coming out,” Stewart said. “We all agree that the days of dumping everything into our lakes and rivers and oceans are over. Something has to be done but there are a lot of municipalities in Atlantic Canada where it’s going to cost four fortunes to have the regulations brought in. We want to make sure that when the funding is put in place, it’s something that municipalities can afford.”

Stewart said Summerside is fortunate in that the city already has its new waste treatment plant on line and it meets the standards.

The city has also revamped its underground pipe network. Under the new guidelines, municipalities can no longer have sewer lines and water lines running side by side.

Stewart said there are still a few areas of the city that need to be addressed.

“The cost is a concern to some municipalities,” he said.  “That’s the kind of stuff that has to be worked out with the federal and provincial governments.”

Organizations: New Build Canada Fund

Geographic location: Summerside, Atlantic Canada, Prince Edward Island Ottawa

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