Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the new 10-year program in Thursday’s budget. In all, Flaherty announced $53 billion in investments, including more than $47 billion in new funding to support local and economic infrastructure projects. The money available in the first year of the new plan will be less than the current annual $3.2 billion, but will increase up to $5.75 billion in 2024.
“Well, you can always use more money now,” said Greeley. “But I guess when you look at the fiscal times that we’re in and you look at the fiscal times the province is in, any infrastructure spending is really tied to federal and provincial investment coming into the municipality. Municipalities can not do it alone with eight cents on the tax dollar.”
“Therefore we need to partner with both the federal and provincial governments, and realizing that they’re both in huge deficits, we’re not in a situation to be able to spend the money. We’re not going to get the money from the province and we’re not going to get the money from the feds.”
He said all three orders of government need to be tackling this head on and planning.
“The infrastructure deficit is not going away. It has to be addressed.”
Once the city’s current water treatment project is completed,the mayor said the next big thing will be proceeding with a waste water treatment project.
“It looks like the federal dollars will be coming in right on time for us.”
The mayor said the funding shows the lobbying efforts of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for a new plan worked.
The mayor was also pleased to see the budget include indexing of the gas tax.
“We saw that the purchasing power of that fund was just going to be lost without the indexing,” said Greeley.
With the provincial budget coming early next week, Greeley said he’d like to see the province come on side with its portion of municipal infrastructure projects.
He said Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador has been lobbying to have the municipal operating grants looked at and hopes the budget will contain some news of that.