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October 28, 2017 2:24 am

Addressing the Infrastructure Deficit

Thursday, September 24, 2015 @ 3:55 AM

Prince George, B.C. – In part nine of our special election coverage, the topic turns to infrastructure.

More specifically we asked the candidates: Most communities are facing an infrastructure deficit, how will you help communities in your riding deal with that issue? (answers in alphabetical order).

Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies:

Elizabeth Biggar, The Green Party: Only 8% of Canadian tax revenue currently goes to municipal governments and we know that it is not enough.
The Green Party will redress the real fiscal imbalance facing the level of government least able to tax fully to cover its costs. Green Party MP’s will support the gas tax commitment to municipal governments. As well, we will advocate innovative strategies to liberate billions of dollars a year through RRSP deductions for municipal bonds.

Todd Keller, Libertarian Party: There is no quick fix to structural debt problems. However, I would work towards development of “sound money” for Canadians. Debt is a lot easier to pay off when your dollar has purchasing power. The current government consistently debases our currency while it increases your taxes to pay for their mistakes. This must stop! I would advocate a gold backed Canadian dollar to stabilize it’s value as an initial step. I have a lot of new ideas on this subject.

Matt Shaw, Liberal Party: As mentioned earlier, the Liberal Government has committed to spending an extra $60 billion in infrastructure over the next ten years. As an MP, I will make sure that my riding receives its fair share of that investment. I will also investigate how infrastructure investment in the North has fallen behind other areas of Canada and make a strong case for special treatment when it comes to accessing federal funds for the North.

*Note Conservative incumbent Bob Zimmer and NDP challenger Kathi Dickie in the Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies riding declined the opportunity to respond.

Cariboo-Prince George:

Tracy Calogheros, Liberal Party: The Infrastructure Plan released by the Liberals is an exceptional program. With close to $120 billion over 10 years, Canada will repair and restore existing infrastructure and invest in emerging technologies. The plan targets specific community deficits by placing the decision-making for expenditures squarely in the municipal chambers. Mayors and their Councils will be able to look to their capital lists, prioritize those projects, and know that there are dollars available to make them a reality. Unexpended money at fiscal year-end will be distributed to the municipalities in a format not unlike the gas tax, giving them even greater control and flexibility to target areas of need on a community-by-community basis. I have already begun a consultation process with the municipalities in my riding to get a sense of what they see as necessary projects for the region. Ideally, we would meet as a region and look area-wide at potential projects so that we can support each other as we build our future.

Sheldon Clare, Independent: The current two billion dollar Federal Gas Tax Fund supports community infrastructure. This federal program is a reasonable means of supporting community infrastructure across Canada. The federal GTF may be used for a variety of municipal projects and I support it.

Encouraging municipalities to consider long term plans that aim at replacing five percent, or other specific amount of infrastructure each year is a worthwhile goal, depending on the life span of specific aspects of that infrastructure. Reintroducing the long-form census would also help to ensure that the amounts allocated are done so fairly, and in keeping with community needs based on population. Some streamlining of bureaucratic reporting processes would certainly help to focus resources on direct support for infrastructure as well.

Adam De Kroon, Christian Heritage Party: I would work with communities each on an individual basis to find solutions related to infrastructure deficit. I support more federal funds to communities for infrastructure. If we go through the budget and weed out all the wasteful government spending I believe we’ll find a significant amount of money that we can then direct to things that really matter to Canadians, like healthcare and infrastructure.

Trent Derrick, NDP: Canada’s municipal infrastructure deficit is a staggering $172 billion and rising. Municipalities own 60% of our public infrastructure, yet collect only eight cents of every tax dollar. After years of downloading and neglect, too many municipalities are struggling. Past infrastructure plans have failed to get funding out the door – with complicated application processes and public-private partnership requirements that shut out smaller communities while adding years of uncertainty and delays to important projects. The NDP are committed to improving our infrastructure deficit. We will start with investing the equivalent of one additional cent of the existing gas tax. This will provide additional funding in the first year that will ramp up to an additional $1.5 billion invested at the end of a first mandate. This NDP initiative will provide annual, stable, long-term investment for infrastructure projects.

Todd Doherty, Conservatives: Our government has worked with communities by investing in projects that help our communities thrive – projects like pools, hockey rinks, etc. that keep people in our communities. The federal government has invested over $2.2 billion in our region on community halls, arenas, and investing in other major infrastructure projects, like the West Quesnel Land Stability Project, which aids in major infrastructure repairs. Our government has also reinvested in community airports, which are vital for attracting and maintaining business and industry in these communities.

Richard Jacques, The Green Party: I would redirect Federal funding towards major municipal and provincial projects with oversight to ensure communities are benefiting from the work being done.

Tomorrow’s question: What would you be willing to cut from the federal budget in order to balance the books?


Todd Doherty’s comments are all in the past tense. Which I guess means that the Con’s aren’t going to do anything.

Matt Shaw says the Liberals will deficit spend $ 60 billion over ten years. Then her Liberal counterpart Tracy Calogheros says it’ll be nearly $ 120 billion over ten years. I suppose she’s factored in the amount of inflation this deficit spending will cause. And even that might be a tad conservative.

When you say that candidates declined the opportunity to respond, does that mean that they actually said: “No, I do not wish to respond.” or does it simply mean that they had no not responded by press time?


Matt Shaw says an extra 60 billion in infrastructure spending.

Tracy Calogheros says 120 billion in infrastructure spending.

So I would thing that currently there is 60 billion being spent on infrastructure.

I for one would like to see more improvements in roads, waste water, senior housing, community development, and more.
We have had no representation in our region for far too long.

Time for change

What really stands out is that municipality’s only get 6 % of tax revenue but are responsible for 60% of the infrastructure costs. That seems patently unfair. Perhaps cutting some gold plated pensions would help.

We need to keep in mind that one of the reasons we have such a problem with infrastructure is the fact that we amalgamated in the mid 1970’s bringing in the Hart Highway, South Fort George, VLA, and other areas. This made a huge increase in the size of the City, with only a small increase in population. Then population did not grow as originally planned, and thus no huge increases in taxes to pay for infrastructure.

We then spent millions, and millions of dollars on swimming pools, hockey rinks, sport facilities, etc; etc; while we let the infrastructure go to hell.

We have increased taxes year over year ostensibly for infrastructure, but we still cry and whine that we do not have sufficient money. Fact of the matter is we have a spending problem, as opposed to a money problem.

We now have some $6 Million per year that is dedicated to roads, another $5 Million for snow removal, plus other utilities are self supporting.

We have seen some really good work in repairing and paving roads, and I would expect to see more as this money is available every year. In other words in 10 years we will be able to spend $60 Million on roads.

We get additional money from the Federal Government through the gas tax that amount to some $3-5 Million per year that could be spent on infrastructure and we can borrow against future payments to start work now if we chose to.

The ball is in the court of this council to get started on infrastructure spending. We need a long term plan and action. I believe that the present council can in fact get the job done, and I would hope that they get started soon, and get away from the less important issues.

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