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Councillor calls on feds to fix flaws in $14B infrastructure fund

By: Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Mar 10, 2014 - 6:27 PM |
A major expansion of Maley Drive, above, would have a huge impact on traffic congestion in Greater Sudbury. However, the project has been waiting for funding for decades. File photo.

A major expansion of Maley Drive, above, would have a huge impact on traffic congestion in Greater Sudbury. However, the project has been waiting for funding for decades. File photo.

For example, it's not clear if project such as Maley Drive is eligible

Ward 7 Coun. Dave Kilgour has joined other members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ board of directors in calling on the federal government to fix “serious gaps” in the design of the New Building Canada Fund.

“Those gaps could put much-needed infrastructure investments in Greater Sudbury at risk,” Kilgour said in a media release Monday.

Kilgour issued the call after a FCM board of directors meeting held in Thunder Bay from March 5-8. While Sudbury and other municipalities were happy with new investments, they want to ensure the fund – $14 billion over 10 years – can be used for high-priority infrastructure projects.

“It is critical that gaps be addressed so that the program can meet the needs of this community over the next decade and give our residents the best value for money,” Kilgour said in the release.

In particular, FCM wants the federal government to address what they call “flaws in the design of the BCF.” They also want a promise the government will consult with municipalities when they're preparing to announce similar funds in the future.

The lack of consultations left important concerns with the BCF “unaddressed and important questions unanswered.

“Municipalities like Greater Sudbury own the vast majority of Canada’s roads, water systems, public transit and other core infrastructure, but to date they have received no clear indication that a fair share of the new BCF will be invested in vital municipal projects, such as Greater Sudbury's high priority Maley Drive,” Kilgour said. “The new BCF’s funding rules further reduce local flexibility by eliminating core infrastructure categories from eligibility, such as local roads.”

The new funding also included rules that could lea cost local taxpayers, “including a cumbersome P3 screen and rules that could force local governments to carry a higher share of project costs. Without changes, these restrictive rules will have a major impact in Greater Sudbury.”

P3 projects, which are eligible for special funding from the federal government, are private and public sector partnerships in which private companies build and operate major projects for a set period. In return, governments are protected from cost-overruns. The $60-million biosolids plant under construction in Sudbury is an example of such an arrangement.

“It’s not too late for the federal government to work together with us to resolve these issues,” said Kilgour in the release. “It is our joint responsibility to do so. This community counts on its federal representatives to work with local leaders to make informed decisions that serve the people of Greater Sudbury and all other municipalities and get the most out of every tax dollar.” 

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