Green Infrastructure cuts another blow to cash-strapped cities

JUNE 15, 2011

Government scraps funding in the face of rising infrastructure deficit

Ottawa

New details of the government’s “strategic and operating review” reveal Infrastructure Canada is cutting $45-million of green infrastructure funding -- even as it stares down a $123 billion municipal infrastructure deficit.

“The Green Infrastructure Fund was intended to provide $1-billion in funding for much-needed projects that would create jobs, address our massive infrastructure deficit, and make our communities more sustainable,” said Olivia Chow, NDP critic for transport, infrastructure and communities. “This isn’t a savings efficiency, it’s a broken promise to generations of Canadians.”

With the recent budget already coming up short on an array of important infrastructure funding, Jamie Nicholls, the NDP deputy critic on the file, says cash-strapped cities will be scrambling to keep up with their growing infrastructure needs.

“The Conservatives’ rehash budget did nothing to reassure our nation’s cities and communities,” said Nicholls.

“There is no extra funding for critical needs, such as rebuilding the Champlain Bridge in Montreal, the Evergreen line in Vancouver, the Convention Centre in Halifax, or for cities and communities hoping to maintain and repair bridges, roads and sewer systems. On top of it all, cities are struggling to pay for upgrades to their sewage treatment mandated by the government’s national waste-water strategy.”

Also lacking in the budget is a commitment to establish a national public transit strategy, or to increase the municipal share of the existing gas tax.

“Conservatives continue to lack vision for growing our cities and communities,” said Chow. “There are so many tangible benefits in investing in green infrastructure, and so much to lose by stripping it away.”