Infrastructure Funding Tops FCM’s Agenda
Prince George, B.C. – City of Prince George Councillor, Garth Frizzell is in Winnipeg this weekend, taking part in the Federation of Canadian Muncipalities Annual General Meeting and Federal infrastructure funding is one of the main topics of discussion.
While the convention is underway, FCM representatives will be meeting with the Federal Minister in charge of the infrastructure funding “We’ll be talking about what municipalities need for the next ( funding intake) coming up, just initial conversations” says Frizzell, who says the Minister is a former Councillor with the city of Edmonton ” He’s said he’s very interested in talking to us about what we want before he starts putting the next generation of infrastructure programs together.”
The discussions will be “starting points” says Frizzell, who says the mandate letter from the Prime Minister outlined an expectation of consultation with municipalities. “It’s been pretty good so far, it’s about $3 million dollars a year Prince George gets from the gas tax, and we’ve got the new infrastructure program so we just have to get them activated and this is a starting point for Prince George and other communities to get pieces of that multi-billion dollar pie that’s been promised.”
There are just a few resolutions up for debate says Frizzell, with the first being a national housing program “There is a national housing program that is run for 61 communities across Canada and the first item up for debate is for expanding that program. It’s interesting for Prince George because we’re one of the 61 communities that’s impacted by this, so all the delegates from across Canada will be debating this and it has particular interest to us because there are two homelessness organizations that stand to benefit if this gets traction.”
Another resolution calls for the establishment of National Orange Shirt Day , which would be to recognize residential school survivors .
Frizzell says there will be some valuable workshops including one on revenue sharing among mining communities. Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman will be sharing the Peace experience, where the area has a special agreement with the Province to ensure communities in the Peace receive revenue from the industries not located within their specific boundaries, but which rely on the services and amenities of the community.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities plays an important role in connecting local government with the Federal government and its programs says Frizzell “This last year when the Federal Government’s budget came out they recognized that FCM would be big partners on the infrastructure files. It’s a lot of advocacy work we do over a long period of time, but it has resulted in money, directly, for Prince George and other communities right across Canada.” He points to the gas tax fund “Under the Conservative government it was indexed, so it’s being increased every year. It’s a line item on a budget, so it its predictable funding, which is what municipalities look for, so there have been some good wins,”