Municipalities across Canada want the next prime minister to commit to doubling funds

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Amarjeet Sohi, the minister of Infrastructure and Communities, meet with municipal leaders at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' 2018 Annual Conference in Halifax on Friday, June 1, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Municipalities across Canada want to get a boost in funding from the Federal government.

The Canadian Federation of Municipalities (FCM) is asking candidates running in the upcoming federal election to commit to doubling the annual Gas Tax Fund Transfer (GTF) once they come into power.

Municipalities say they need more money to fund infrastructure. According to the FCM, the fund accounts for only two per cent of municipal revenues. They would like it to increase to 3.5 per cent.

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The Montreal representative of the CFM, Dorval mayor Edgar Rouleau, explained that while the list of local infrastructure projects is growing, the fund isn’t.

“The cost of living, projects, there are so many demands from citizens — and with right — they all want their street to be done, they want a better soccer field, a better library. The challenge that we always have is to keep the taxes down,” explained Rouleau.

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The GTF is a permanent source of funding provided up front, twice-a-year, to provinces and territories, who in turn flow this funding to their municipalities to invest in local infrastructure.

The FCM says it is currently getting 10 per cent of every tax dollar through this fund but it is responsible for 60 per cent of the public infrastructure.

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Rouleau says this fund is needed to provide proper services to local communities.

“Instead of let’s say doing one street, maybe you’ll do two streets. And really it’s just that we’re doing more,” Rouleau said.

“We got a five-year list of the things that need additional maintenance, need additional support and we were able to take extra items off this list, items that are badly in need, such as roofs of libraries, sidewalks and roads,” added Garth Frizzell, FCM’s first vice-president.

The GTF was doubled in 2019 but municipalities want to ensure it will be permanently doubled.

“It’s an important step and with all of our assets aging rapidly and with climate change contributing to that, the doubling of the gas tax is a first central step and then the next one is, once we’ve doubled it, we gotta figure in an escalator that accounts for the increasing construction cost.” Frizzell explained.

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Frizzell added that all members of the FCM will be speaking to candidates when possible.

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