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Mayor Kelly Urges Chamber Support for Share of Gasoline Tax

(Wednesday, June 4/2003)-- Mayor Peter Kelly today called on the local business community to support the Halifax Regional Municipality's call for a share of a portion of the Gasoline Tax to help combat the growing shortfall in infrastructure funding.

In his annual "State of the Region" address to the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Kelly asked the business community, Opposition Parties, political candidates and others to get onside and urge the provincial government to dedicate a portion of the Gasoline Tax to municipalities.

The Mayor said "We have a solution and our Council endorses it, the Atlantic Mayors' Congress endorses it, the Big City Mayors' Caucus endorses it and that solution is the partial use of gasoline taxes that you and I pay every time we put gas in our cars."

He said "The infrastructure shortfall in HRM is about $50 million a year. This shortfall on Capital projects creates a tremendous challenge for our talented staff. Through creativity and sheer determination, they keep us going. But, we must start closing the gap."

The Mayor said HRM's population is expected to increase by an additional 100,000 people, for a total of 459,000 residents, by the year 2026. As a result, there is a pressing demand for new roads, bikeways, walkways, recreational facilities, water and sewer projects and improved transit services.

Mayor Kelly said the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec already give municipalities a portion of their Gasoline Tax revenues. Manitoba Premier Gary Doer indicated last week he will participate in the new program, and Premier Ernie Eves is considering giving a portion of Ontario's Gasoline Tax to their municipalities.

He said that Federal Liberal Party Leadership candidate Paul Martin told municipal leaders at a meeting of the Creative Cities Coalition in Winnipeg last week that if he becomes Prime Minister, he would be willing to work with the Provinces to ensure municipalities receive a portion of the Gasoline Tax.

Mayor Kelly said that more than 80 per cent of Canadians now live in urban areas and see proof everyday of crumbling infrastructure. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) estimates the infrastructure deficit-- the gap between what needs to be fixed in municipalities across the country and the money to pay for it-- is $57 billion-and growing by $2 billion annually.

The Gasoline Tax generates about $4.8 billion annually in revenues, but the Federal government puts only about $300 million of that money back into transportation infrastructure across the country.

Mayor Kelly also urged the Chamber and its members to become involved in HRM's Regional Planning process, providing the municipality with input and feedback.

"Our next steps in our Regional Planning process involve communicating and opening a dialogue with the public to draft goals and objectives for the Plan," he said. Main areas of focus will be Economic Opportunities; Efficient Transportation; Settlement (Growth) Patterns; Environmental Protection; a Harbour Plan; and the Capital District.

The Mayor said HRM is in sound shape financially-- its $530 million Operating Budget is balanced; service levels are being maintained or enhanced; and for the first time since amalgamation, HRM's debt is below the $300 million mark.

Mayor Kelly said HRM's single largest environmental challenge-- the Harbour Solutions Project-- will soon be proceeding and HRM will continue to press for additional funding from the federal and Nova Scotia governments.

Other notable facts:

  • In 2002, building permits were issued for $538 million of construction (25 % increase)
  • In 2002, housing starts were up 42 per cent over the previous year
  • December 2002 saw the highest number of housing starts since 1977
  • 2002 residential construction value increased 52% over the previous year
  • In 2002, construction value for multiple units doubled over 2001,
  • In 2002, metro apartment vacancy rates were 2.7 per cent-- slightly lower than the previous year
  • Nearly 2000 new residential lots were approved in 2002
  • In 2003, more than 1,000 apartments and condominiums, as well as 225 townhouses, are proposed or planned


Mayor Peter Kelly
(902) 490-4010

Above content last modified Thursday, November 02, 2023 at 11:40am.