Nearly four months after the New Build Canada Fund was activated, there have been no projects submitted by any Prince Edward Island municipalities.
As the days and weeks progressed, the construction season slipped away leaving communities without necessary infrastructure projects and construction companies with less work. This translated into fewer jobs for Islanders and less economic growth for communities across the province.
The City of Summerside finally said, ‚ÄúEnough is enough‚ÄĚ and went to the source, the office of federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel.
The city wanted answers.
Members of city council along with Mayor Basil Stewart, city management and department heads took part in a conference call with two policy advisers with Lebel‚Äôs office. What they found out was a lot different than what they were being told by the province.
In June, P.E.I. Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Robert Vessey said the province is in negotiations with Lebel's office.
"This is a 10-year program so we're trying to get the best deal we can for Islanders," said Vessey. ‚ÄúIt's taking a bit of time.‚ÄĚ
This was the reasoning the province was giving for not putting any municipal funding requests forward.
Stewart said they were told by Ottawa ‚ÄúInfrastructure Canada is not in discussions or negotiations with any province or territory regarding the framework of the agreement. This program is the exact same across Canada and is not up for discussions. So, whatever is going on we‚Äôre trying to find out. Infrastructure Canada has been accepting applications since March 28 when it was announced.‚ÄĚ
The policy advisers said the province has multiple applications in for funding under the program but there have been none from municipalities.
That‚Äôs the question the City of Summerside would like answered.
Stewart said, he understands that one of the projects the province has applied for funding foris the third power cable between P.E.I. and New Brunswick, a costly project which could involve a bulk of the money being allotted to P.E.I. He said this could affect the amount of money available for municipal projects.
Calls to Vessey‚Äôs office were not returned but this is a question the minister is going to have to answer ‚Äď why the delay when other provinces have been getting their funding over the last four months?
Stewart said, ‚ÄúMultiple applications from our province are in. We don‚Äôt know what they are.‚ÄĚ
This was a necessary move by the city because of the impact the Build Canada Fund can have on the community. It creates jobs and wealth for the area. The city needs to keep the pressure on the province and get the federal money flowing into the community.