SUMMERSIDE – Construction projects and the jobs that go with them are in jeopardy because of delays in acting on the New Build Canada Fund, says the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The New Build Canada Fund a $14-billion fund to support projects of national, regional and local significance that promotes economic growth, job creation and productivity, has not yet come to the provinces.
With the construction season underway and no federal funding agreement in place municipalities across Canada are concerned needed projects will not be completed.
The FCM addressed this issue at its annual meeting over the weekend in Niagara Falls, Ont. and passed a resolution calling on the federal government to get the funding on track so projects can be undertaken.
“The Build Canada Fund was the major topic of conversation,” said Bruce MacDougall, president of the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities. “There’s just no movement on it. FCM has been at the table helping to design the plan right from the start but this time we were not given any opportunity to take part in the plan. They basically told us here it is.”
MacDougall said the FCM did pass a resolution at the annual meeting calling on the federal government to move along the process as soon as possible.
“Right across the country we’ve been talking to lots of communities and there’s nothing being done,” he said. “This thing was supposed to be ready for March 31 and here it is June 1 and nothing is ready and nothing in sight, as far as we’re concerned.”
Rob Philpott, director of finance for the City of Summerside doesn’t see the delay affecting projects underway in Summerside.
“We’re in the process of developing a long-term capital improvement plan which is going to identify our immediate capital priorities for the upcoming year as well as the next 10 years,” Philpott said. “Part of that will involve a prioritized listing of what we see as the main priorities from the city’s perspective and we’re expecting to roll that out by the end of the summer.”
He said with this, the public can really see what the main priorities are in terms of roads, water and sewer and other projects.
“We have our projects that are ongoing right now,” Philpott said. “Depending on what the eligibility criteria looks like, we can adapt our projects to conform with any of the standards or requirements of the Build Canada Fund. I don’t necessarily see this as impeding any projects that we have underway now, nor any projects that we’re going to be planning for the future.”
“As for this year, we’re not concern at all that it would necessarily impact the delivery of various projects,” he said.
MacDougall said Ottawa hasn’t given any reason as to why the funding is delayed.
“If you talk to them you think everything is fine but it’s not,” he said. “We’re in jeopardy of losing the construction season. There are projects out there that everybody wants to apply for. There’s job creation that goes along with it that really we need, especially in our part of the country.”
The criteria for funding, which projects are eligible and which are not, remains unclear.
“Hopefully in the next couple of weeks they can get something together,” MacDougall said. “The clock is ticking and we don’t have a long construction season. Every day is a loss.”
Philpott said at this point, the city does not have a specific project specifically earmarked for the New Build Canada Fund, only because we are awaiting further details around such things as funding eligibility and the timing of when this funding will roll out.
He said, once these details become known, the city could adapt certain existing projects to receive funding under the New Build Canada Fund.
MacDougall said, the federal government needs to make the rules clear.
“You can apply but what are you applying for?” he asked. “It’s not clear and it needs to be a lot clearer to the municipalities. I don’t believe the provincial government has even signed. There are lots of provincial governments that haven’t signed. It’s just going to be a take it or leave it, I think, in any agreement signed.”