Canadian cities and towns are appealing for public support in pressing for renewal next spring of federal subsidies to rebuild municipal works.
“So much of our everyday lives rely on quality municipal infrastructure,” said Karen Leibovici, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities; “When something goes wrong, whether it’s an aging water main that breaks and floods our street or traffic gridlock that prolongs our commute, we immediately feel its impact on our families and businesses.”
The federation launched a new initiative, the Great Canadian Infrastructure Challenge, to raise awareness of the importance of public works.
“We know that Canadians have busy lives and don’t have a lot of time to talk about fixing roads and water pipes,” said Leibovici, an Edmonton councilor. “But in the next few months the federal government will be making critical decisions that will affect Canada’s infrastructure for the future.
“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity we cannot afford to miss and we need all Canadians to be involved in the debate,” Leibovici said.
Cabinet has promised to renew a $33 billion Building Canada program that expires in 2014, but has yet to detail terms or conditions.
The federation and supporters in a Municipal Infrastructure Forum have appealed for details by the end of this fiscal year March 31 to allow time for engineering studies and tendering of contracts.
The Forum noted any new federal subsidies should include broad funding commitments through a 20-year timeline; guarantee that increases in subsidies are linked to growth; permit “strategic” investments in local projects regardless of partnerships with private investors; and gauge subsidies to needs of large and small communities.
Forum partners include the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Toronto Board of Trade, Engineers Canada, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadian Construction Association and the Canadian Public Works Association.
By Alex Binkley