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Bulk of federal infrastructure budget to fund green projects

0 567 Infrastructure

by Russell Hixson

The largest chunk of the proposed federal infrastructure spending in the 2016 budget would go towards green projects. Of the $11.9 billion set aside for the first phase of a two phase, ten-year infrastructure plan, $5 billion would be spent on climate change-related infrastructure, municipal-capacity building and water projects with an emphasis on First Nations communities.
Bulk of federal infrastructure budget to fund green projects

According to the 2016 federal budget, $75 million would fund local government projects to deal with climate change, including greenhouse gas reduction and climate change risk assessments. The funding would be delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

The FCM would also receive $125 million over the next two years to enhance the Green Municipal Fund. The fund, established in 2000 by a partnership with municipalities, pays for innovative, municipal green infrastructure priorities. The fund recently assisted with the Halifax Solar City pilot to install solar systems in homes and the first net-zero municipal library in Quebec.

The budget sets aside $50 million for a new capacity-building fund to support the use of asset management best practices. This initiative aims to assist with how core infrastructure assets are to be built, renewed, operated, maintained and replaced to maximize public money spending.

According to the budget, "Smaller communities, in particular, have indicated that they lack corporate capacity to undertake these important planning activities."

The funding, delivered through the FCM, would support this capacity-building. To assist, Infrastructure Canada plans to work with Statistics Canada to improve infrastructure related data. According to the budget, this will support better information on the state and performance of core infrastructure assets for all levels of government.

The budget has earmarked investment for climate resilient infrastructure. The Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project, which would enable the province to curb flooding, is asking for $248 million. The Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant, which serves parts of the Greater Vancouver Area, has asked for $212 million to protect it from extreme weather and rising sea levels.

A $2 billion portion of the green project spending would go into a newly created Clean Water and Wastewater Fund over four years to improve water distribution and treatment infrastructure. Funding will be delivered on an expedited basis this year to address urgent projects. Ottawa plans to fund 50 per cent of eligible costs for these projects.

The federal government also earmarked $1.8 billion over five years to be spent specifically addressing water needs in First Nations communities in order to end long-term boil water advisories.

The budget also promises to accelerate spending for infrastructure projects, including water and waste water projects, under existing programs, including:

More than $73 million for 57 capital and capacity-building British Columbia municipal projects.

$62 million for the Ottawa Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel to reduce sewage overflow into rivers.

$583 million for the development of the Calgary ring road.

$17.1 million to upgrade four drinking water treatment and distribution systems in Sherbrooke, Que.

$19 million for the Sydney Harbour West Wastewater Collection and Treatment Plant in Nova Scotia.

The government is working on an "urgent basis" with provinces, territories and municipalities to deliver these projects as quickly as possible.

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