IQALUIT, NU, Aug. 31 /CNW/ - Northern communities lack the
infrastructure needed to achieve the objectives of Canada's Northern
Strategy, says a report released today in Iqaluit by the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
"The Northern Strategy promises a better future, but to get there we
need a plan to build affordable housing and fix crumbling roads,
bridges, and water systems," said FCM President Hans Cunningham.
"Municipalities don't have the tools to meet a challenge that big on
their own - not in the North, not anywhere."
The report, entitled On the Front Lines of Canada's Northern Strategy,
was written by Dr. Ken Coates and Dr. Greg Poelzer of the University of
Saskatchewan's International Centre for Northern Governance and
It finds that Canada has failed for decades to make the ongoing
investments needed to sustain northern development while its northern
neighbours - Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the United States - steadily
strengthened their northern presence. Due to the lack of a long-term
plan, today the North lacks the infrastructure to support its families,
its businesses, and Canada's national interests.
The situation is growing more urgent as a warming climate melts the
ground beneath Northern communities. In the Northwest Territories
alone, it is expected to cost at least $230 million to protect
vulnerable buildings, more than $5,000 for every man, woman and child.
Recent federal investments in affordable housing and infrastructure are
helping, but in the long run, municipalities do not have the funding
tools to build and maintain local infrastructure while meeting growing
responsibilities, including many downloaded by other governments. The
challenge will be even greater in the North, where communities face
higher infrastructure costs due to their small size and remote location.
"Canada has fallen short in the North because of short-term thinking,"
said Cunningham. "Now we have a chance to change that - we need to make
the most of it."
FCM is calling on the federal government to commit to a long-term plan
to improve northern infrastructure, make the North a global leader in
adapting to climate change, and coordinate military and municipal
investments wherever possible.
SOURCE Federation of Canadian Municipalities
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