Federal government opens new dialogue with municipalities on wastewater

TORONTO, May 29 /CNW Telbec/ - For the first time, the federal government is opening a dialogue with municipalities about new federal wastewater regulations that will require the replacement or reconstruction of one-in-four public wastewater systems across Canada.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice has offered to meet formally with a delegation from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to review the regulations and work together on their implementation. The announcement was made today in Toronto during FCM's 73rd Annual Conference and Municipal Expo(TM).

"With one voice, municipalities have called for a cost-shared funding plan to determine the full costs of meeting these regulations and pay the once-in-a-generation price of modernizing our municipal wastewater systems," said FCM President Basil Stewart, mayor of Summerside, P.E.I. "We are pleased Minister Prentice has heard that message and is ready to talk about a new way forward."

"Now we need to put this new dialogue to work building a long-term partnership between all orders of government," added President Stewart. "We are looking for a partnership that builds and maintains the infrastructure the country needs to protect its environment and better serve all Canadians."

Environment Canada published the new regulations on March 19, 2010. The standards will require the replacement or reconstruction of more than 1,000 wastewater treatment systems, or one in four systems across Canada. On-the-ground analysis shows the price of meeting the standards in four cities alone - Vancouver, Victoria, Halifax and St. John's - will exceed $4 billion in the next decade. That does not include the cost of upgrading facilities in Montreal, which has one of the country's oldest and largest sewer systems, and in hundreds of smaller cities and communities.

FCM delegates had been scheduled to vote today on a resolution calling for action in Ottawa on the wastewater regulations, but chose to put the resolution on hold pending the outcome of the new talks with the federal government. The FCM board will immediately revisit the issue in the event those talks with the government are not successful. The more than 1,500 delegates present also unanimously approved resolutions calling on the federal government to set targets to cut growing commute times in Canadian cities; renew soon-to-expire federal investments in affordable housing; and introduce pension reforms to help low-income senior citizens.

SOURCE Federation of Canadian Municipalities

For further information: For further information: Eric Collard, (613) 907-6395

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