Often, for space concerns, newsbriefs will get trimmed, as happened this issue with my preview of the National Infrastructure Summit. In this case, it was probably for the best.
Here’s what was lost…
After two years of trying to come up with a solution to the nation’s infrastructure woes, can we expect to see another National Infrastructure in 2013? O’Donnell is doubtful, and hints that we might soon be hearing more about a deal between federal and provincial governments for some kind of infrastructure support.
“I think politically, if there is a long term infrastructure plan you might see this not have the same impetus that the first one did and this one did. I think the groundwork is done,” says O’Donnell. “The other thing I would have to say is, great, we might have a plan and we might have money, but we still have to carry it out. It doesn’t mean the sidewalks are fixed and the roads are better. It’s only the start.”
From the same interview, when I ask if the federal government is taking the infrastructure problem more seriously, O’Donnell had this to say…
The FCM is announcing their score card — all of this information that’s been talked about for a long time. Not only will it [the score card] be announced in Lavalle, Quebec, a couple days before and it’ll be reiterated here in Regina. The president is coming in to do that. I think the message has gotten out. I think that we’re considering a long term infrastructure plan that will go to cabinet for consideration later this year and hopefully to the budget process this spring tells me they’ve listened.
So anyway, I figured all this was horribly incomplete and needed some fleshing out so I called Councillor O’Donnell (like two minutes ago) to double check what he said and he reminded me that there were round table discussions over the summer with the federal government to discuss the need for a replacement to the Building Canada Fund. That fund supported municipal infrastructure projects and while it technically ends in 2014, it’s pretty much empty right now — some cities are still spending money from it but there isn’t any new money going out.
Coming out of those roundtables, O’Donnell tells me that there will be something on Finance Minister Flaherty’s desk about the need for infrastructure funding so that money can begin to flow in 2014 and cities won’t miss a construction season. O’Donnell also says that the cities have requested 10 years of funding (the Building Canada Fund was only for seven).
So…… Is there, behind the scenes, an infrastructure deal for cities? Not really. It’s still in the hands of the federal government. But it sounds like municipal leaders have reason to be hopeful that something is coming.