Manitoba’s municipal leaders want to see the province commit to a 40 per cent contribution level under a proposed funding formula for major infrastructure projects.
That formula is under discussion as the federal government rolls out its new Investing in Canada infrastructure program.
Budget 2017 announced a second phase for federal infrastructure spending with the federal government prepared to put in 40 per cent.
Municipal leaders here are asking for a cost-sharing formula whereby the province would contribute another 40 per cent of costs for projects, leaving local government to come up with the other 20 per cent.
That 40 per cent is needed to leverage the investment the feds are making in Investing in Canada, worth $81 billion over the next dozen years, said Association of Manitoba Municipalities president Chris Goertzen, who is also mayor of Steinbach.
A 40-40-20 forumla is what the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has recommended across all provinces. AMM thinks it is a fair division of the costs, given local government’s limited ability to come up with larger percentages, Goertzen said.
Municipalities still collect less than 10 cents of every tax dollar yet have over 60 per cent of public infrastructure on their tab, Goertzen said.
“The ramifications of not receiving 40 per cent cost sharing or close to it from our provincial government is that money will be left on the table,” he said.
“The result will be a real missed opportunity for Manitoba and municipalities.”
The matter was highlighted in a resolution put forward by the Municipality of Russell-Binscarth at AMM’s convention.
They’d originally asked for 33 per cent from the province but amended it to propose the 40-40-20 split, said Cheryl Kingdon-Chartier, deputy mayor of Russell-Binscarth.
This formula is key to seeing many projects go forward, she said. It’s very difficult for local governments with limited means to come up with larger amounts, she said.
Dividing the costs equally among all three levels of government would be an undue burden and not reflect their ability to pay.
“Costs and need for new and improved infrastructure continue to rise placing considerable stress on municipalities regardless of their size and scope,” she said.
“A cost-sharing formula that’s constant and stable would allow much more effective planning and budgeting,” she said.
The matter was top priority last month when municipal leaders with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Rural Forum converged on Ottawa and met with federal leaders about the costs to maintain infrastructure in rural Canada.
“We’re ready to build better roads and waste water systems, and to boost our quality of life, but this plan will need to recognize small-community realities,” said FCM Rural Forum chair Ray Orb in a news release.
Fair cost sharing and streamlined project administration are keys to moving many of these projects forward, Orb said.