Hall’s Huddles In Ottawa Positive
Prince George, B.C.- Mayor Lyn Hall says the meetings he’s been having in Ottawa are going well and he is optimistic they will bear fruit.“We’re meeting with various Ministries, infrastructure, Veterans Affairs, technology folks. We’re just trying to get a jump on what’s happening particularly around infrastructure and the $60 billion dollar announcement the Government made a few weeks ago.”
Hall says the discussions will cover a number of issues “We have projects we need in Prince George and we want to see what the criteria is going to be to apply for funding from the Federal Government. The Ministry of Veterans Affairs, I specifically want to talk about the Veterans Affairs office in Prince George and there’s been an announcement by the Minister a number of months agao about re-establishing the 9 community Veterans Affairs offices that had been closed, so I just want to get a time line to see what that looks like.
Infrastructure is key, not only for Prince George, but for every community right across the country. The message has already been carried to Ottawa by the “Big City Mayors” group as well as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, but Mayor Hall says he doesn’t think Prince George’s voice is being drowned out by those much larger groups “I am very impressed with the reception we’ve received. I talked specifically about the Big City Mayors requests, is that going to impact medium and smaller sized cities? And the answer is no, the infrastructure funding is set up for all communitieis throughout Canada, so I was reassured by that.”
The infrastructure funding has a number of categories, including ‘social’ and as expected, that will include affordable and seniors housing, Mayor Hall says he has been advised a performing arts centre would also follow under that umbrella. But that’s a baby step. There is still no indication on how that funding might be allocated “With the Build Canada Fund, that’s a three way partnership between the municipality, the Province and the Federal Government, so we wanted to know if that’s going to remain the same and what does the funding formula look like.” The policy on the funding share is still being developed says Mayor Hall.
But the focus is on the below and above ground infrastructure “I feel pretty positive about the ability of us to go after funding, even though there’re a lot of communities in the country that certainly need it. The Government is looking at revitalizing this old infrastructure and it looks like there is a real commitment to it and every community is going to need some of that. It may be that we get a few million bucks and that’s great. We don’t expect that we will have every project fully funded, we know there is money we have to put in and so will the Province and that’s the other piece we’re waiting on, but I feel pretty positive about it.”
Mayor Hall says while he is optimistic the visit will produce results, it may be several months before those results shine through “This trip is really just to get our face out there and to touch base, and make these ministries aware that we are going to be looking for funding for some of these projects that we’ve got in the works.”
The Mayor and City Manager have three more meetings with Federal Ministries today.