Municipalities strengthen call for central role in infrastructure plan (25/11/2016)
FCM delegation wraps up marathon "Phase 2" talks on Parliament Hill
Fresh off a four-day marathon of meetings on Parliament Hill, municipal leaders say they found an emerging consensus among parliamentarians - that municipalities will need to play a central role to make the landmark federal infrastructure plan work for Canadians.
"The federal government's infrastructure plan is really a huge opportunity to strengthen Canada by strengthening our communities. But unlocking that potential depends on getting Phase 2 right, and that means building it around local needs and local expertise," said Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) President Clark Somerville.
The FCM-led delegation of nearly 100 local leaders from across Canada held 190 meetings with parliamentarians, including 14 cabinet ministers. Discussions focused on the Phase 2 design of the federal plan to invest in infrastructure across Canada. This month's Fall Economic Statement grew Phase 2 to an unprecedented $81 billion investment over 11 years in transit, social, green and other infrastructure priorities.
"We just met with 190 parliamentarians from all regions and political stripes, and they brought a tremendous diversity of views to the table. Yet everyone seems to agree that putting tools in municipal hands is the key to making Phase 2 deliver big for Canadians," said Somerville.
Local governments have a track-record of delivering local infrastructure solutions in ways that tackle national challenges - from creating jobs to boosting productivity to lowering GHG emissions. Local leaders told parliamentarians that unlocking this nation-building potential in Phase 2 depends on key design decisions before Budget 2017, including:
- streamlining significant Phase 2 funding as predictable allocations so municipalities can plan long-term, tap local expertise and move projects forward;
- modernizing cost-sharing arrangements so municipal fiscal limits do not block progress on Phase 2 projects; and
- dedicating much of the Phase 2 Social Infrastructure Fund to tackling the housing affordability crisis that is playing out across Canada.
"This month's decision to dedicate $2 billion to rural and northern infrastructure needs shows this government is listening. That's another key FCM recommendation met, with three more on the table. With predictable allocations, fair cost-sharing and a focus on housing, Phase 2 is going to transform people's lives from coast to coast to coast," said Somerville.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is the national voice of municipal government, with 2,000 members representing 90 per cent of the Canadian population.
Michael FitzPatrick, Media Relations Advisor, 613-907-6346 or firstname.lastname@example.org