Securing sustainable infrastructure funding for local governments

Local governments across Canada build and maintain 60 percent of core public infrastructure, but only receive 10 cents of every tax dollar paid. To ensure Metro Vancouver’s major infrastructure continues to serve the needs of the region, it is vital the federal government provide sustainable funding for major infrastructure projects.

More about the Issue

Metro Vancouver’s 5-Year Outlook 2019 – 2023

Questions

 

If elected, will your party commit to providing permanent, predictable, and sustainable funding sources for infrastructure projects to meet the needs of a growing population in Metro Vancouver?

 

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    Metro Vancouver is responsible for providing services that keep half of the population of British Columbia healthy and safe, including clean water and air, solid and liquid waste management, regional planning and parks. But with another 35,000 more people moving here ever year, Metro Vancouver’s services and infrastructure are under pressure.

    Like other local governments, Metro Vancouver relies primarily on property taxes, user fees, and transfers from senior orders of government to fund its infrastructure projects. But with only 10 cents of every tax dollar coming to municipalities, funding is severely limited.

    Federal funding programs do exist and help local governments build, maintain and upgrade critical infrastructure. However, the criteria for these programs are often inconsistent and timelines can change dramatically with a change in government. This uncertainty undermines long-term planning and often results in delays and cost increases to essential projects.

    Local governments require more predictable funding sources for necessary, non-discretionary infrastructure projects. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, for instance, is calling on federal parties to commit to a permanent doubling of the Gas Tax Fund transfer to local governments, which would provide local governments with a direct source of funding so they can plan for the future.

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    Response not yet received.

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    In the last four years, we have made real progress when it comes to moving forward with the infrastructure communities across the country need – from community centres that bring people together to more efficient and reliable public transit in our biggest cities. More than 48,000 projects have been approved under the Investing in Canada Plan, the vast majority of which are already underway, creating good, middle class jobs and making our communities better places to live.

    In Metro Vancouver, over the last 4 years, the federal government has made significant investments. We’ve invested in better transit with money for the Broadway Line extension, fleet expansions on the Millennium, Expo and Canada Lines, an additional Sea Bus, investments to extend train service in Surrey and the Fraser Valley, as well as funds for station renovations, maintenance and upgrades. We’ve also invested in protecting our waters and health, providing more than $200 million for the Lion’s Gate Wastewater Treatment plant.

    Through Budget 2019, we’re investing an additional $2.2 billion to make sure that infrastructure funding gets into the hands of the people willing and able to get projects done–our local and municipal governments. We are also ensuring that unspent infrastructure funds from older, inactive programs are transferred to municipalities through the Gas Tax Fund to support local infrastructure priorities. That means more roads, bridges, and green projects that are creating jobs, getting people home from work faster, and growing the economy.

    To make sure that the infrastructure that people and communities need is built, we will also require that all provinces and territories identify and approve all of their long-term infrastructure priorities within the next two years. Funds that aren’t designated for specific projects by the end of 2021 will be reinvested directly in communities through a top-up of the federal Gas Tax Fund. Funds that can be used to add more buses, sky trains, upgrade transit stations, and improve roadways to keep people moving.

    To give cities the predictable transit funding they need to plan for the future, we will move forward with making the federal commitment to fund public transit permanent, and will make sure that it keeps up with the rising cost of construction over time. This will mean an additional $3 billion more per year in stable, predictable funding for our cities’ transit needs, on top of transfers through the federal Gas Tax Fund.

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    New Democrats believe that Canadians should be able to count on the federal government to invest in infrastructure to make a real difference in communities across the country, not to pad the bank accounts of investment firms.

    Our vision is one in which communities can afford to build the infrastructure they need to thrive, from roads and bridges to community centres and child care centres, and everything in between. These investments will create good jobs in every part of the country. To get there, we will partner with provinces, territories, First Nations, and municipalities to deliver reliable public infrastructure funding that puts people – not profit – first. By using Community Benefit Agreements, we will guarantee that good jobs, training, apprenticeships, and support for local businesses are part of every infrastructure project.

    When it comes to moving around, public transit should be a convenient and affordable option that makes your commute easier, all while taking cars off the road, cutting emissions, and reducing gridlock. New Democrats understand that getting our communities moving is critical for our economy and our quality of life. That’s why we’ll put in place a permanent, direct, allocation-based funding mechanism for modern public transit across Canada for the long run. We’ll also step up investments now to help cities transition their bus fleets to electric and to expand affordable rail and bus options in all parts of the country. And for municipalities that make it a priority, a New Democrat government will work with them towards fare-free transit to ease commutes and make life more affordable.

    As the impacts of climate change are felt across the country, New Democrats believe that all levels of government must step up to help communities cope with the impacts of extreme weather. That’s why a New Democrat government will expand federal funding to respond to disasters and support communities by proactively adapting their infrastructure to withstand floods, forest fires, and other extreme-weather events. We will also partner with Canadians and communities to make serious investments in making buildings more energy efficient to help families save money and fight climate change.

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    Yes. Successive governments have skirted the issue of ensuring municipalities are properly consulted and funded to fulfill their responsibilities. No one wants to reopen the Constitution, but it is time to give the municipal order of government the tools and support required to provide the fundamental services relied on by the vast majority of Canadians. With only 10 cents out of every tax dollar flowing to the municipal order of government, vast inequities in our governance structures and financial stability have been created. If these responsibilities are downloaded to municipalities, then revenue sharing agreements need to be reviewed to ensure that they have the funds to successfully fulfill those responsibilities.

    If elected, a Green government will:

    • Institutionalize federal transfers to municipalities through the creation of a Municipal Fund, renaming the Gas Tax funds, which were delinked from gas tax revenue years ago. Ensure a doubling of current funding to ensure predictable and reliable funding to municipalities.
    • Allocate one per cent of GST to housing and other municipal infrastructure on an ongoing basis to provide a consistent baseline of funding.
    • Make changes to the Canada Infrastructure Bank to reduce interest rates to municipalities on loans for infrastructure projects.

 

If elected, will your party commit to contributing at least 40% of the costs of infrastructure projects such as wastewater treatment plant upgrades?

 

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    Metro Vancouver’s Liquid Waste Services face a host of regulatory requirements from other orders of government, including federally mandated upgrades to wastewater treatment plants.

    Current projects include upgrading the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant to secondary treatment at a cost of $1.9 billion. Such projects also come with prescribed timelines for completion – 2030 for Iona – yet Metro Vancouver and local governments often don’t have the necessary revenue sources to complete such improvements on their own.

    The New Building Canada Plan was instrumental in securing funding for the Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant, now known as the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant, but that fund will be eliminated in 2023-2024. A new federal commitment to contribute at least 40% of the cost of infrastructure projects is necessary to complete future projects on time.

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    Response not yet received.

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    Our communities should be healthy and safe places for Canadian families to live and work. Our Liberal government has been investing in green infrastructure to protect our communities from the challenges of climate change, and grow a greener, more efficient economy, including investing in cleaner and safer water for Canadians and a healthier environment by funding more than 2,800 water and wastewater management projects. Under the Investing in Canada Plan integrated bilateral agreements, the federal government will invest up to 40% of municipal and not-for-profit projects and up to 50% of provincial projects. We will continue to listen and partner with communities, and invest in the infrastructure needed to build a better Canada. Right here in BC that has meant thousands of renovations and new units for families that need them most, as well as new investments in the services that are helping those most vulnerable who are homeless. As we go forward with implementation, we will continue to monitor the investments we have made to ensure that we are able fulfill our commitments to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent and remove more than 500,000 households from core housing need.

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    The NDP believes in a fair and balanced share of cost allocation leaving a smaller and more manageable portion for municipalities to assume. By working with Canada's municipalities, the federal government has now adopted a 40% share of cost-sharing for new construction. We don’t intend to change this formula.

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    Yes. Successive governments have skirted the issue of ensuring municipalities are properly consulted and funded to fulfill their responsibilities. No one wants to reopen the Constitution, but it is time to give the municipal order of government the tools and support required to provide the fundamental services relied on by the vast majority of Canadians. With only 10 cents out of every tax dollar flowing to the municipal order of government, vast inequities in our governance structures and financial stability have been created. If these responsibilities are downloaded to municipalities, then revenue sharing agreements need to be reviewed to ensure that they have the funds to successfully fulfill those responsibilities.

    If elected, a Green government will:

    • Institutionalize federal transfers to municipalities through the creation of a Municipal Fund, renaming the Gas Tax funds, which were delinked from gas tax revenue years ago. Ensure a doubling of current funding to ensure predictable and reliable funding to municipalities.
    • Allocate one per cent of GST to housing and other municipal infrastructure on an ongoing basis to provide a consistent baseline of funding.
    • Make changes to the Canada Infrastructure Bank to reduce interest rates to municipalities on loans for infrastructure projects.