On February 13, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper revealed the details of the new Building Canada Fund (BCF). Since 2007, the BCF has been one of the primary sources of federal funding for municipal infrastructure projects. The new BCF includes $10 billion to be distributed to provinces and territories over the next ten years. The $10 billion will be allocated to provinces and territories using a formula that includes $250 million in base funding for all provinces, with the remaining being distributed on a per capita basis. Alberta’s exact allocation based on this formula is $942 million over ten years.
The BCF funding is eligible to be used for the following project categories:
• Highways and major roads (with economic significance)
• Public transit
• Drinking water
• Solid waste
• Green energy
• Brownfields redevelopment
• Connectivity and broadband
• Short line rail
• Short sea shipping
• Local and regional airports
• Northern infrastructure (Territories only)
• Innovation/knowledge infrastructure (mainly post secondary institutions)
• Disaster mitigation
At this point, the application process for municipalities has not yet been announced. The federal government will be working with the Government of Alberta to determine the process. The federal government plans to begin accepting BCF applications by April 1, 2014. While the AAMDC is encouraged by this news, there is still concern that municipalities may not have time to prepare applications for the 2014 construction season.
For a complete background on the new BCF, click here.
There are some specific aspects of the new BCF that are especially important for AAMDC members. The first is the inclusion of a $1 billion Small Communities Fund that is reserved for municipalities with a population of 100 000 or less. Rural municipalities across Alberta have unique and urgent infrastructure challenges and the Small Communities Fund should assist in reducing rural infrastructure deficits.
The AAMDC is concerned with the eligibility requirements related to road construction projects. The indication that the “Highways and Major Roads” category is linked to an unknown definition of economic significance suggests that rural and local roads may be ineligible for BCF funding. The AAMDC looks forward to seeing the specific eligibility parameters related to road construction, and hopes that it considers the rural perspective.
AAMDC President Bob Barss discussed the new BCF on the February 14, 2014 episode of Alberta Primetime. His interview can be viewed by clicking here.
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