Friday, July 7, 2017

Federal infrastructure grants to take a Green swing

Federal Infrastructure and
Communities Minister,
Amarjeet Sohi is laying out the
guidelines for future grant
opportunities for this year and beyond
When the time comes for the City of Prince Rupert to put together its wish list of potential federal infrastructure grant funding applications, they may have to change some of the focus towards projects that offer a focus on sustainability.

In a letter to Premier-designate John Horgan, the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, the Federal Minister responsible for infrastructure and Communities outlined the new direction that the Federal government is taking when it comes to how they allocated funding for many of the projects that municipal governments apply for.

The main thrust of that new approach is one that is focused on the terms sustainability and environmental quality and can be reviewed from one paragraph of the letter to Mr. Horgan.

Our approach to this next phase of our government's plan to make historic investments in infrastructure will be different from what has been traditionally done in the past. We want the new programs announced in Budget 2017 to focus on outcomes that will have a positive, real impact on Canadians for generations to come. The bilateral agreement will be signed after an open dialogue between our governments and will aim to achieve the following outcomes:

1. Increase the rate of economic growth in an inclusive and sustainable way;

2. Improve environmental quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resiliency of communities

3. Improve mobility in Canadian communities;

4. Make Canadian communities more inclusive and accessible;

5. Manage infrastructure in a more sustainable way.

The funding levels over the next eleven years are destined to bring billions to the table to be spread out across all provinces and territories for a range of infrastructure initiatives.

In addition to the focus on the environment, the funding will also be tied to economic growth.

The breakdown as to where the Trudeau government plans to allocate their billions is as follows noted as part of four streams for funding:

$20.1 billion for public transit; 

$9.2 billion for green infrastructure; 

$1.3 billion for community, culture and recreation infrastructure;

$2.4 billion for wide-ranging infrastructure needs in rural and northern communities. 

That funding includes the $400-million Arctic Energy Fund, which will be delivered under this stream to support energy security in the territories.

Municipal governments are required to contribute roughly one-third of the cost for any of the infrastructure initiatives that they identify as important to their community, though as the Minister notes in his letter, some of those parameters can shift depending on the project.

Prince Rupert most recently has accessed funding for the Shawatlans Water Supply project, which is rebuilding the city's aging water system from the Shawatlan's Lake reservoir area, through to the underwater pipes that connect that supply to the City.

You can review some of those past grant opportunities from our archive page here.

A snapshot of the four streams that municipal and provincial governments may wish to pursue can be found as part of the Minister's correspondence with Mr. Horgan.

Competition is tough however, with this archive of past announcements highlighting where the Federal Government has spent its money over the last few years.

More notes on some of the key issues ahead for the City of Prince Rupert can be found on our Council Discussion archive.

The First Nation Governments of the Northwest will also be reviewing the new guidelines carefully as they prepare their infrastructure lists, with the Federal government committing to up to 75% for contributions towards projects in Indigenous communities.

The Government of Canada is committed to renewing the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, partnership and advancing the outcomes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This includes making infrastructure investments in Indigenous communities, which represent a significant opportunity to promote inclusive growth. 

 Under the integrated bilateral agreements that will be signed between the federal government and the provinces and territories, eligible Indigenous recipients include First Nations communities on-reserve, First Nations communities covered by modern treaty and/or self-government agreements, Inuit communities, M├ętis settlements as well as recognized Indigenous organizations (e.g. development corporations). Indigenous communities will be eligible for an increased federal contribution towards projects (up to 75%).

Other notes on the Federal Government, its influence in the Northwest and the work of NDP MP Nathan Cullen can be found on our House of Commons archive page here.

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