CALGARY, June 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Concerns over how Canada will be able to
meet its mounting transportation infrastructure needs have been
exacerbated by recent government belt-tightening. In a report released
today by The School of Public Policy and Van Horne Institute, author
Brian Flemming argues that it is infrastructure users who should be
shouldering the financial burden of new projects or upgrades.
"Only some form of road pricing will fill the coming shortfalls in
funding," Flemming said today. "This means something far beyond mere
traditional tolling of roads and bridges. It means creating a system
whereby those who use infrastructure will --- electronically --- have
to pay small and sophisticated fees for this use, the amount of which
will depend on the time and place of use."
In his report, Flemming acknowledges that the issue of charging
Canadians for road usage is "still a third rail for incumbent
politicians" and because of this there must be "a very public and
transparent debate" about the matter.
The author proposes usage fees be collected by a new entity dubbed the
National Roads Funds or National Infrastructure fund. He describes this
fund as having network-wide responsibility, being financially
self-sufficient and holding independent executive authority for
deciding which projects get funded.
Projects in modes of transport other than roads would also be allowed to
compete for financing from this entity. This would ensure that Canada
expands its infrastructure by the most efficient and cost-effective
means, Flemming contends.
As an alternative financing mechanism, Flemming proposes the creation of
provincial or federal iBanks, or infrastructure banks. Such banks would
not be capitalized through usage fees but through a variety of other
means that the author outlines. Among the options are having the
federal government use some or all of future gas taxes and raising
private funds through bonds, preference shares or mortgage-backed
The report can be found online at www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/publications.
SOURCE University of Calgary - School of Public Policy
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