HALIFAX – Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said he was pleased by the commitment to public transit in this year’s federal budget, but thinks there is one area he thinks is lacking.
Savage said he was looking for three things in the budget: transit, housing and water and wastewater.
The budget allocated $750 million for public transit over two years with $1 billion afterward, but it’s contingent on the federal Conservatives being re-elected.
“It’s a little bit of a post-dated cheque for now,” Savage acknowledged. “It will come later but it’s something we can work with, we can bank on.”
“That could be very promising and very important for cities, especially cities like Halifax,” he said, adding he is waiting for details.
As for housing, Savage said the budget allows for the continuation of housing programs.
But one area where he was left disappointed was the lack of mention of water and wastewater.
“Just to meet the new federal guidelines, which will be implemented in 2020, there’s going to be a $600 million cost to Halifax,” he said. “That’s a huge amount of money for a city like outs. We understand the need for it but we also think if it’s a federally mandated charge that the federal government should have some responsibility for that.”
“We’d like to see a separate fund for that aside from infrastructure because there’s all kinds of other needs for infrastructure. We’ll continue to push on that one.”
The feds have committed $292.6 million over five years for national security, which includes $4 million to improve security at military bases.
Savage applauded the investment.
“The military money is, again a lot of it backend loaded, but for planning purposes, it provides some stability, the framework going forward. In an area like ours, which has a very high military population, which employs a lot of people, it has a big economic impact. That’s very important.”