Municipal leaders urge federal government to invest in municipal infrastructure

While federal housing plans are applauded by many municipal leaders throughout Ontario and across Canada, more funding is needed to see those plans come to fruition, those leaders say. Photo by Jeriden Villegas.

The Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus (EOWC) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) are calling on the federal government to invest in the infrastructure needed to support the very welcome housing plans recently announced.

According to a release from the EOWC, meaningful and collaborative investment is needed from the federal government to service new and existing projects and to provide for “our growing and aging population.”

The EOWC noted that municipalities own and maintain most of the infrastructure Canadians rely on daily, and 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 centers, and other critical public infrastructure need regular repair and replacement across the country, especially in rural areas, the organization stated. According to the release, 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,” said 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 busses to get us to work on time but this critical infrastructure and these services costs money. Municipalities can’t be expected to keep raising property taxes to pay for it.”

In the release, EOWC, alongside the FCM, calls 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 the growth and rehabilitation of existing assets, EOWC stated.

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, according to the release.

“Towns, cities, and villages have been funded the same way since Confederation,” said 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.”

2 thoughts on “Municipal leaders urge federal government to invest in municipal infrastructure

  • As a Kingston City Councillor and FCM representative when asked about why more houses aren’t being built I highlight the infrastructure costs and an unworkable system of taxation. Reform is long overdue. Thank you EOWC and my colleagues at FCM for your advocacy.

  • City property & business taxes are collected for 3 things: Security & Safety of Kingstonians (police, fire, ambulance, and traffic), maintaining and building new infrastructure and obviously now the cost of supporting the homeless. The problem is that for decades our city council has ignored or delayed many of these costs – to spend money on items which are NOT their fiduciary responsibility i.e. they can give $100,000 to a special group to come up with a name for the third crossing – or spend $750,000 to buy land from a consortium of developers who purchased the land knowing in the first place they could not develop it……and the list goes on of inappropriate spending. Infrastructure is NOT Federal responsibility!

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