Charlottetown – Mayors from throughout Atlantic Canada are meeting in Charlottetown at the Atlantic Mayor’s Congress (AMC) to discuss economic development in the region. Economic Development Officers from across the region are also gathering, working in conjunction with the mayors in an effort to frame a cooperative agenda for economic stimulation.
A resolution addressed the New Building Canada Fund (NBCF), outlining the mayor’s concerns including what funds are available towards municipal projects and what eligibility requirements are attached to these funds. The mayors feel the federal government in developing this fund fell short of full consultation, yet municipalities remain ready to work with their federal and provincial counterparts to address important outstanding questions. The hold up of answers on this new fund raises concerns around this delay will negatively affect local economies.
"It is evident that municipalities require a clear framework and direction to apply the New Build Canada Fund from the federal and provincial governments before we can move forward," says Mayor Clifford Lee of Charlottetown. "We currently do not have specifics of the plan we require to move forward. The holdup, unfortunately, is disruptive to local economies."
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality indicates any delays will be substantial towards their economy. "Federal-provincial Build Canada process and procedural delay pose an immediate threat to essential local projects and job creation for the upcoming construction season," says Mayor Cecil Clarke. "People are standing by in anticipation of commencing shovel-ready projects but they cannot move forward yet, potentially and this affects jobs and contracts."
The AMC has resolved to support the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ work to monitor the implementation of the new fund to ensure a significant majority of the investment support municipal infrastructure. The AMC is anxious to expedite the flow of funds for regional and municipal projects.
Mayor Brad Woodside from the City of Fredericton adds, "Municipalities across Canada find it difficult planning their economic development as they are dependent on the federal plan, yet the federal and provincial governments need to move quickly to enable municipalities to go forward with plans they have in place through the New Building Canada Fund."
Mayor Al Hawkins of Grand Falls, Windsor has concerns regarding where the money is being transferred and the timeframe and lack of framework with the provinces. "Newfoundland and Labrador municipalities have already received funding for capital works but does not include dollars from the NBCF. Therefore, it is presumed the new funds will not be available until late this summer."
The mayors are also concerned that new mandatory federal wastewater regulations under the NCBF will result in a minimum of 20 billion dollars of required investments for municipalities across the country. The mayors want recognition of the exceptional financial burden these regulations will place on municipalities across Canada.
The mayors acknowledge the significant role passenger rail service has played in building Canada, linking communities and people from coast to coast. Changing economic factors have significantly reduced the frequency of service along the rail corridor and now threatens the viability of the service.
The AMC encourage the Government of Canada, Via Rail and other stakeholders to participate in a national discussion about the future of passenger rail in the Atlantic Region and Canada. The AMC look for the FCM’s support towards developing a national rail transportation strategy.
"We have been speaking with our partners in the Quebec region from Gaspe to Rimouski as well as Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview, Mirimachi and Bathurst with our MP’s and our federal representative, Minister Valcourt. We believe we have made our point," says Mayor Bruce MacIntosh from Campbellton, New Brunswick. "Conversation and discussion only goes so far but we anticipate an announcement soon on this matter by the Minister of Transportation, Lisa Raitte."
The mayors and economic development officers will continue their discussions on numerous other topics at the Atlantic Mayor’s Congress until Friday at 12 Noon, April 25th when the meetings conclude.
City of Charlottetown