Q1. What is your party’s approach and commitment to supporting the infrastructure challenges faced by municipalities in building sustainable communities that are resilient to potential impacts of climate change?
An NDP government will invest up to an additional $1.5 billion annually in funding for municipal infrastructure, which municipalities will be able to target to local priorities, including adapting to climate change. Our Better Transit Plan will also increase funding by up to $1.3 billion annually, allowing communities to lower pollution with greener public transit. Together, the Better Transit Plan and improved Gas Tax Fund will invest a total of $15.2 billion in new and existing funding over the next 4 years.
The NDP will also invest $150 million in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund to support sustainable development pilot projects, including energy efficiency, energy recovery, and transitioning to cleaner fuel for municipal transit. Our plan for government-backed Green Savings Bonds will also leverage private sector investment to help our communities adapt to climate change. This includes clean energy, energy efficiency and soil decontamination projects to make our communities more efficient, greener and competitive.
Q2. What is your party’s funding commitment for (municipal) infrastructure?
High quality, modern infrastructure is critical to the health of our cities and towns – it’s an essential component of economic growth and competitiveness, it helps to protect our environment, and it contributes to the quality of life of our families. But municipalities have been left to shoulder 60% of the cost of infrastructure with only 8% of the tax base. The result is inevitable: municipalities can barely keep up with repairs, let alone investments in new and badly needed infrastructure.
Municipalities need stable, reliable funding – not one-time only boosts to funding that can be taken away at any time to balance the budget. That’s why we will increase funding for infrastructure by increasing the Gas Tax Fund, starting with the equivalent of one additional cent and ramping up to an additional $1.5 billion annually by year 4. By 2020, this will mean municipalities are receiving $3.7 billion annually in core infrastructure funding.
Across Canada, traffic congestion is polluting our air and costing local economies tens of billions in lower productivity and lost opportunities. In the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area alone the cost is $6 billion annually. An NDP government will tackle gridlock and cut commute times with our Better Transit Plan, in partnership with the provinces and territories. We will increase funding for transit to reach the level of $1.3 billion annually in predictable, stable, and transparent funding, over the next 20 years.
Unlike other parties, we’ve been very clear that our investments in infrastructure and public transit will be public funding—transferred directly to municipalities through the provinces and territories, and will not include private money or loans that need to be repaid with interest. We will also not force municipalities to undertake public-private partnerships, regardless of their size, location or capacity. Instead, we will allow our towns and cities to have the flexibility to decide how best to spend the funding they receive.