Goulden attends Ottawa infrastructure talks

Unsurprisingly, infrastructure was the hot topic at the recent Federation of Canadian Municipality meetings in Ottawa November 22 to 25 and a Yorkton city councillor was there trying to advance the city’s agenda.

In its fall economic update, the federal government announced a massive infrastructure program that includes $2 billion for northern and rural municipalities.

Yorkton councillor Randy Goulden is a member of the FCM board and joined a delegation of municipal officials in talks with the federal finance and infrastructure ministers and opposition party Parliamentarians including Yorkton-Melville MP Cathay Wagantall. Goulden is cautiously optimistic about Yorkton benefiting from the program.

 “The federal government`s infrastructure plan is a huge opportunity to strengthen our community with good jobs, better streets and roads, and more affordable housing,” she said. “But all of this hinges now on Ottawa getting the funding details right.”

In a press release last week, Goulden noted discussions focused on the design for Phase 2 of the infrastructure plan. Getting the details right “should be based on long-term funding allocations that help communities plan ahead and deliver results.”

There are precedents for revenue-sharing, including the previous governments gas tax allocation and Saskatchewan’s provincial sales tax sharing.

“We heard very diverse views on Parliament Hill, but most agree that putting tools in local hands is the key for Phase 2,” Goulden said. “If Ottawa gets this right, we’re going to be building a higher quality of life in Yorkton for years to come.”

Goulden said cost-sharing with federal and provincial governments also needs to be modernized, so projects aren’t held back by local fiscal limits. FCM has called for most of the Phase 2 Social Infrastructure Fund to tackle affordable housing that they think has reached crisis levels in many communities across Canada.

The federal government has promised final decisions for the design of Phase 2 by Budget 2017.

Goulden also serves as chair of FCM’s Community Safety and Crime Prevention Standing Committee and is a member of the National Rail Safety Working Group.

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