The G&M is reporting that some Conservative MPs are suggesting we should use gas tax money to fund sports stadiums like the one being considered for Quebec City and, presumably, the one Regina has its heart set on. There is also a report out that looks at changing the gas-tax rules to allow for this.*
The only named proponent of the scheme is Edmonton-St. Albert Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber. Finance minister Jim Flaherty, however, is on record as saying that such a shift in focus for the gas tax is a possibility.
Meanwhile, over at the L-P, in a piece by Angela Hall, saner heads seem to be prevailing as provincial cabinet minister Ken Cheveldayoff points out that in Regina at least that money is already spoken for. And then some.
See, that gas tax money is supposed to be used for things like water and waste-water utilities, roads, bridges, public transit and solid waste management. Not only has our budget already taken this year’s allotment of gas tax money and earmarked it for such purposes,our council has also been lobbying for a greater share of gas tax money in future so that we can use it to offset some of our $2.1 billion infrastructure deficit.
Putting gas tax money towards the stadium would just mean leaving our infrastructure problems to fester. Problems like that $146 million expansion to our waste water treatment facilities that we’re being forced to undertake because of changes to federal environmental regulations the Conservatives put in place.
That some Conservatives are even floating this gas-tax-reallocation balloon seems to be a pretty good indication of how out of touch they are on the infrastructure crisis.
(And speaking of the infrastructure crisis — and the summits convened to cope therewith — we’ve a big feature article on that very subject in the latest prairie dog which should be hitting newsstands any minute now.)
Note: This G&M story changed dramatically from when I first linked to it. When it first went up, it was about the gas tax scheme. Later in the day, after Quebec City’s mayor announced that his city and the province would be going it alone on the stadium plan, the gas tax angle was sidelined. It’s all still in there, you just have to read through to the final few paragraphs.