Wardens urge investment in infrastructure

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by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus 

While the Government of Canada announces regular new and welcome Housing Action Plan investments, the member municipalities of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) are calling on the federal government to make meaningful and collaborative investment to support the infrastructure needed to service new and existing projects and to provide for our growing and aging population.

Municipalities own and maintain most of the infrastructure that Canadians rely on every day. Still, they have been underfunded for decades, collecting only eight to 12 cents of every tax dollar. Existing roads, bridges, sewers, drinking water treatment systems, community centres, and other critical public infrastructure continue to need regular repair and replacement across the country, especially in rural areas. There are simply not enough financial resources for municipalities to keep existing infrastructure serviceable or to provide new infrastructure for new projects to support our communities.

“We tend to take infrastructure for granted because most of us only think about it when it’s not working,” says FCM President, Scott Pearce. “We expect our first responders to show up when there’s a crisis, our local recreation centre to have space for kids to play, and our buses to get us to work on time but this critical infrastructure and these services cost money. Municipalities can’t be expected to keep raising property taxes to pay for it.”

The FCM and EOWC call on the federal government, in advance of its 2024 budget decisions, to further invest in the infrastructure required to develop and sustain complete communities for Canadian families. All municipalities need to be able to rely on programs such as the Canada Community Building Fund (CCBF) that support growth and rehabilitation of existing assets.

The FCM and EOWC further advocate that all orders of government must work together at a single table to develop and agree upon a realistic municipal growth framework for next generation infrastructure.

“Towns, cities, and villages have been funded the same way since Confederation,” says EOWC Chair Peter Emon. “It was a sensible system when horse-and-buggy was the primary mode of transportation and when populations were measured in the thousands, not millions. Things have changed and it’s time we had a modernized municipal growth framework in place to reflect that.”

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