FCM President Steeves says stats can report supports call for long-term plan to fix municipal infrastructure deficit

    OTTAWA, Feb. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - The following statement was released today
by the President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), Winnipeg
Councillor Gord Steeves, responding to Statistics Canada's report on the age
of Canada's infrastructure.
    "In his report for FCM, Dr. Saeed Mirza of McGill University says local
governments need $123 billion to eliminate the municipal infrastructure
deficit. Yesterday's report by Statistics Canada provides evidence of that
deficit and the trends that caused it.
    The report shows that relatively little money has been available for
maintenance and repair of assets, which is the root cause of the municipal
infrastructure deficit. For example, according to the report, during the 1990s
less than 10 per cent of wastewater investments were spent on fixing existing
systems. The report also shows that Canada's bridges and overpasses are
getting older. In Quebec more than 70 per cent of the useful life of bridges
and overpasses has been used. Canada's sewer and wastewater systems are also
getting older.
    Some media coverage has highlighted the report's contention that the
overall average age of certain infrastructure assets has decreased slightly.
However, this decline is the result of building new infrastructure, not fixing
existing infrastructure. Building a new road may lower the average age of a
community's roads, and help respond to growing transportation needs, but it
does not fix the old roads. Instead, it adds new infrastructure that must be
maintained and paid for
    In Budget 2007, as part of its fiscal balance strategy, the federal
government made important commitments in response to municipal fiscal needs.
The budget delivered more than $18 billion (over seven years) in dedicated
funding to municipalities. FCM welcomed these much-needed investments and the
improved funding predictability they provided.
    In Budget 2008, the government has the opportunity to build on these
investments to provide the long-term, infrastructure strategy Canada needs.
Without a long-term, national plan to maintain and repair infrastructure, new
and old, new assets will add to Canada's growing municipal infrastructure
deficit. These trends-a critical backlog of necessary repairs, underinvestment
in maintenance and rehabilitation, and an expanding stock of new assets
without a sustainable funding plan to pay for their upkeep-will all contribute
to a growing crisis in Canada's municipal infrastructure.
    Canada needs a long-term plan to eliminate the municipal infrastructure
deficit, led by the Government of Canada. The first step is to make the
federal gas-tax fund permanent, and add an escalator so it keeps up with
inflation and our growing needs."

For further information:

For further information: Maurice Gingues, (613) 907-6395

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Federation of Canadian Municipalities

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