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COMMITMENT ON FUNDING FOR NEW FEDERAL WASTEWATER RULES NEEDED, SAY ATLANTIC MAYORS
(Saint John, November 4, 2010) - The Atlantic Mayors Congress (AMC) today called on the federal government to use Budget 2011 to spell out its plans for funding proposed new federal wastewater regulations that could cost Atlantic Canadian municipalities and property taxpayers well over a billion dollars.
The Mayors were responding to reports from representatives of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) that detailed the impact of the regulations on municipalities and property taxpayers.
"We all understand the importance of treating wastewater but our property taxpayers can't shoulder the cost alone," said AMC Chair, Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly. "The bill in Atlantic Canada alone could top two billion dollars-we need a commitment that all governments, starting with Ottawa, are ready to pay their share."
According to figures from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the regulations could cost Atlantic Canadian municipalities close to two billion dollars. That figure would almost double if the regulations were to require municipalities to eliminate combined sewer overflows. This is particularly troubling for Atlantic Canadian municipalities which are among the oldest in the country and therefore are more likely to have combined sewer overflows.
The regulations, announced last spring by Environment minister Prentice, were developed over a six-year period and were endorsed in February 2009 by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). If adopted, they will create national standards for some 3,500 wastewater facilities, most of which are in need of repair and upgrading, according to the CCME.
The mayors also urged the federal government to quickly meet with municipal representative as well as provincial ministers of the Environment to begin work on a national plan to cost-share these national wastewater upgrades.
"The uncertainty around funding will become a planning millstone for many municipalities. Other important multi-year capital investments may have to be postponed, added Mayor Kelly. "That's why we need the federal government and the provinces to make this a priority."
A major 2007 Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) study set the national municipal infrastructure deficit at $123 billion. The study also revealed "sub-deficits," in various classes of infrastructure with water and wastewater systems needing $31 billion--before these new regulations.
Municipalities build and repair over half of Canada's infrastructure, and virtually all of its water and sewage systems. At the same time, municipalities continue to receive just eight cents of every tax dollar collected in Canada, with the other 92 cents going to federal, provincial, and territorial governments.
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