Stay the course on federal infrastructure funding: Atlantic mayors

HALIFAX, Jan. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - The following is a statement by the members of the Atlantic Mayors Congress (AMC), following their meeting today in Halifax, N.S. The Mayors were joined in their discussions by PEI minister of Transport, Public Works and Infrastructure, Ron McKinley.

"Most Canadians believe investments in local infrastructure are among the most important we can make.

This was shown in a recent poll conducted for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), which found that 69 per cent of Canadians rank infrastructure investments second only to health care in importance. In Atlantic Canada, that figure is 73 per cent.

Canadians want these investments to continue, and we agree, because they are effective and important.

The permanent federal Gas Tax Fund, the GST refund and other infrastructure spending have helped our communities make much-needed repairs and upgrades to roads, bridges, public transit and water systems.

These programs have created jobs, improved health and safety in our communities and have contributed to a more competitive economy for our region and our country.

Today, we are calling on the federal government to stay the course on its local infrastructure funding. We say this knowing that the government has a deficit to fight and some hard choices to make.

We understand hard choices, because we too must balance budgets. And we have deficits-infrastructure deficits that nationally add up $123 billion. This national municipal infrastructure deficit was years in the making, with roots in 1990s, when the federal government fought its deficit on the backs of provincial and municipal governments.

We are just beginning to chip away at this deficit, with federal and provincial support. That support is too important to be interrupted now.

We are concerned that the March 31, 2011 deadline for projects under the Stimulus Infrastructure Fund could prevent the completion of important projects in the region and shut the flow of important stimulus before our economy has fully recovered.

The FCM poll shows that almost all Canadians (96 per cent) want the federal government to at least maintain current funding for municipal infrastructure. That's almost unanimous, and we think it sends a clear message to Ottawa to stay the course on funding local infrastructure.

We are calling on Atlantic Canada members of Parliament of all parties to show their support for their cities and communities and commit publicly to sustaining federal infrastructure investments, particularly the permanent Gas Tax Fund, the GST refund and the Building Canada Fund and extending the deadline for completion of projects under the Stimulus Fund to December 31, 2011"

SOURCE ATLANTIC MAYORS' CONGRESS

For further information: For further information: Mayor Peter Kelly, (902) 490-4010

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