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Federal budget offers funds for municipal infrastructure

Yesterday, the Government of Canada announced its 2009 budget. The budget includes as much as $12 billion for provinces to use to support municipal infrastructure projects.

The budget does not specify what kind of projects the provinces could support with the funds, but likely provincial goverments would transfer some of the funds to help municipalities build some of the “shovel-ready” projects that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities recently identified for federal support, including public-transit projects.

Unfortunately, to receive the funds, municipalities must also match the funds that the federal and provincial governments put forward for the projects.

The government also proposes to allocate $407 million so that VIA Rail Canada can upgrade inter-city rail travel throughout Canada, but, especially, in southern Ontario and Quebec. The government proposes that VIA use the funds to modernize its fleet of locomotives and passenger cars and to upgrade key stations. Locally, that means VIA will pay to help improve Union Station and a station in Hamilton, probably the former CN station on James Street North. Both stations are key to future regional and local transit initiatives.

Reaction from municipal associations

Canadian Urban Transit Association
Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Media reaction

Globe and Mail’s John Barber: Cut the cheques — and the red tape
Toronto Star’s Royson James: Billions in funding for municipalities bound up in red tape
Toronto Sun’s Christina Blizzard: It’s a Tory spending spree

Transit advocate Steve Munro comments on the proposals to fund upgrading Union Station here.

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