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Mayor Says Federal Budget Addresses Need for Infrastructure Funding
(Tuesday, January 27, 2009) "In the federal budget released today, it appears that the government listened to the request from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for funding of municipal infrastructure projects," says Mayor Peter Kelly. "This funding will not only help meet the challenges of a recession in creating jobs, it will provide much needed support for new infrastructure projects. However, we do not know the details at this time as to what portion of the funding can be accessed by HRM so we cannot comment on the level of the support and what we can achieve with it."
Mayor Kelly noted that HRM has been working to keep its aging infrastructure in adequate working condition. Water systems, wastewater collection and treatment facilities, recreation facilities, and streets and roads are the foundation of all cities and we need to maintain them in a sustainable manner.
The budget allows for the creation of a $4 billion infrastructure stimulus package to be spent over the next two years on currently unfunded projects but municipalities would be expected to match federal funding. "This may be a challenge but HRM has determined that transportation and infrastructure are two of its key focus areas over the next four years so we will do our best to do our part."
" With quality infrastructure comes the ability to compete for new jobs, opportunities and investment in the global economy, all goals and objectives of HRM's Economic Strategy," notes Mayor Kelly.
"A key element of this funding is that it must be able to flow quickly, minimizing red tape and maximizing flexibility, in order that "shovel ready" projects are able to begin immediately to put people to work and have the greatest effect upon the ailing economy," says Mayor Kelly. "With the commitment made in today's budget to make existing programs work faster, the Government of Canada appears to have recognized this need."
The budget has also provided for a $1 billion Green Infrastructure Fund."HRM, like many other progressive Canadian cities, has made a commitment to be a healthy, sustainable, vibrant community and this involves significant capital costs to enable these outcomes to be achieved and ensure compliance to federal and provincial standards," says Mayor Kelly. "It is our hope that this funding from the federal government will help move forward important projects that will assist in our sustainability efforts, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
"HRM is also pleased with the announcement that Canadians can expect to see an investment of $2 billion to support construction, repairs and maintenance at colleges and universities," says the Mayor. "This is good news for a municipality, such as HRM, with many post secondary institutions in need of such funding."
Funding in the amount of $2 billion for investment in affordable housing is also part of the new budget and will not only provide jobs but also recognizes an important community need.
HRM now looks forward to a partnership with all levels of government to put people to work and get started on the building and maintenance of our infrastructure.
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Mayor Peter J. Kelly