Provincial officials can tap into infrastructure fund later this year

Provincial officials can begin sorting through lists of potential projects now that the federal government has released its 10-year infrastructure plan.


The details of the $53-billion New Building Canada Plan are still unclear, but the money is supposed to be available beginning this spring.


Prime minister Stephen Harper announced the plan Feb. 13, two days after the federal budget.


“Our government understands the vital importance of infrastructure and is proud to be implementing the largest long-term infrastructure plan in Canadian history,” he said in a statement.


The plan was first announced in the 2013 budget, and the lack of details in the 2014 budget concerned municipal and provincial leaders.


However, officials can begin to address their infrastructure challenges now that the general framework has been announced,.


And there are many.


Organizations representing rural municipalities have been pointing for years to aging bridges and roads that require hundreds of billions of dollars to repair let alone replace.


Government relations minister Jim Reiter is reluctant to put a dollar figure on what Saskatchewan requires but said it is obviously in the billions.


One community estimated at the recent Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association convention that it needs $40 million.


“There are clearly a lot of projects around the province that need to be done,” Reiter said.


The plan makes $5.4 billion available to the prairie provinces from several funds.


The New Building Canada Fund contains $14 billion: $4 billion for projects of national significance and $10 billion for the Provincial-Territorial-Infrastructure Component (PTIC) for projects of national, local or regional significance.


The $32 billion Community Improvement Fund includes funds from the gas tax and provides a GST rebate to municipalities.


The P3 Canada Fund makes $1.25 billion available for public-private partnerships, while another $6 billion is available through existing programs.


Saskatchewan will receive slightly more than $1 billion from the two main funds within the plan: $437 million from the New Building Canada Fund and $613 million from the Gas Tax Fund.


Manitoba’s dedicated funding comes in at $1.2 billion: $467 million and $713 million from each fund respectively.


Alberta’s funding is $942 million from the Building Canada fund and $2.27 billion from the gas tax fund.


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