Infrastructure the underlying theme of FCM conference

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Coun. Patrick Boyle's photo shows the disaster readiness session at the 2014 Federation of Canadian Municipalities' (FCM) conference in Niagara Falls.

One of the best ways to gather new information is by learning what other cities are doing.

That was one of the messages Mayor Deb Higgins is taking with her after attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference this past weekend in Niagara Falls.

“It touched on a number of things, I think, that are important to the City of Moose Jaw,” said Higgins. “It’s always good to get out and see what other communities are doing.”

Higgins, along with Coun. Patrick Boyle, Coun. Heather Eby and Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick, attended the FCM conference that took place this past weekend in Niagara Falls.

During the plenary session of the conference, Higgins said the most important resolutions revolved around accessing the Building Canada Fund (BCF).

There have been many delays and not enough information regarding the launch of the federal government’s 10-year BCF, which promised $14-billion in infrastructure funding. The BCF was supposed to begin on April 1.

“There’s a lot of finger pointing back and forth between the feds and the provinces as to what the hold up is. What it gets down to is there’s lots of confusion, there’s very little information, no application details or really firm dates as to when applications will be available,” said Higgins.

“I think the frustrating part for all municipalities is that we’ve missed the construction season. So that’s problematic, but the frustration was kind of consistent right across the country.”

FCM members passed a resolution for the federal government to “work with the provinces and territories to immediately develop a process to receive local government applications.”

Boyle said a lot of smaller communities aren’t happy with the amount of funding for the BCF. He added Canada has a deficit of between $140 and $200 billion and the country is behind $20 to $30 billion per year. He added Moose Jaw is considered a smaller city because of a population less than 100,000.

“A large chunk of that can go to bigger cities so cities like Moose Jaw … we don’t get a big piece of that pie,” said Boyle. “A lot of what we need to do is continue to go to that table.”

He mentioned other smaller communities are in “worse shape than us” such as someone he talked to from northern British Columbia. After talking to several other elected officials from various parts of the country, he said a lot of places have similar problems regarding infrastructure

“The Building Canada Fund and I think a lot of what’s going to come is going to come most likely in 2015, closer to the election,” said Boyle. “The first couple years there really is no money ... It’s more of a back loaded deal.”

During another session on environmental issues and sustainable governments, the top issues brought up were flooding and other severe weather and how it affects infrastructure. Questions were raised on what should be new standards and if the events are unusual or the new normal.

“In most cases, people agreed that they were going to become more common because of climate change,” said Higgins. “The big thing is looking a little differently at infrastructure, not only that infrastructure needs to be rebuilt for sure, but are we meeting the standards that we need to in this day and age that will build sustainable development in the City of Moose Jaw?”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Federation of Canadian Municipalities, The Building Canada Fund

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Niagara Falls, Canada British Columbia

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