On November 30, 2011, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Denis Lebel, launched the formal engagement process that will bring together the Government of Canada, provinces, territories, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and others to develop a new long-term plan for public infrastructure beyond the expiry of the Building Canada plan in 2014.
Our government has long recognized the critical importance infrastructure plays in supporting the business and tourism sectors, job creation and long-term growth across the country.
The seven-year, $33-billion Building Canada plan, introduced in Budget 2007, was unprecedented. More importantly, it represented the stable, predictable infrastructure funding our municipalities were calling for.
I particularly valued its emphasis on partnership with the provinces and the municipalities and its bottom-up approach, which ensured that municipalities, like our own in Kelowna-Lake Country, could build the infrastructure needed to support our economic viability and growth.
Under Building Canada, and the subsequent recession-proofing Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, we successfully completed local infrastructure projects including: Hwy 97/33, the pedestrian overpass, multi-use corridors, the Gordon Rd. Bridge, recreational facilities, eco-upgrades at UBC, water quality supply improvements, the airport runway expansion, and local transit expansion.
With the process for further long term funding, coupled with our government’s commitment to make the $2 billion Gas Tax Fund permanent, municipalities can continue to count on stable and predictable funding to help support their local infrastructure priorities.
NEW LONG-TERM PLAN
Now that the Building Canada fund is nearing the end of its lifespan, the Government has begun implementation of a three-phased, federally-led engagement process for the development of a long-term infrastructure plan. The first two phases are analytical and will involve working with our partners and stakeholders to take stock of our joint accomplishments to date and build our knowledge base on gaps and priorities.
Beginning in the spring of 2012, we will have in-depth discussions with partners to confirm the broad principles and orientation of an infrastructure plan beyond the expiry of the Building Canada plan.
There will be significant engagement with all key partners and stakeholders throughout the entire process.
At the end of the process one of the key outcomes will be to provide the Minister of Finance with a report in late fall of 2012 that will outline key findings from the process that could inform the direction of a long-term infrastructure plan beyond the expiry of the Building Canada plan.
I’ll keep you posted on any new developments related to the long term renewal process. Until then, as always, I welcome your input. If you feel you can add to the process don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected]. If you want to meet, I’ll be working out of the Constituency office the last week before Christmas.
As our local industries and business sectors continue to innovate and flourish, and as the communities of the Okanagan Valley continue to grow and prosper, it is going to be even more important to modernize and expand our local infrastructure.
I look forward to my first quarterly meeting with our 3 MLA’s, newly elected Mayor Gray, and the local Chambers of Commerce to discuss this initiative further in early 2012.
I’m confident that if we continue to work closely together and set our priorities wisely, as we have done in the past, we will ensure that our communities will be in great shape, creating good jobs and new opportunities for our citizens, for generations to come.
Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country.