MNL happy with capital funding changes

Evan Careen

Published on March 14, 2017

On March 13, the provincial government announced a modified municipal capital funding formula and Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) is happy with the changes.

Karen Oldford, president of MNL, said in the current fiscal reality, the province has to leverage all the federal funding that’s available and this formula allows them to do that.

“They found a way to match dollars and not leave any federal dollars untapped,” she said. “That’s really excellent news for all of us in the municipal sector to be able to have that access.”

The new formula offers a 70-30 split for infrastructure for wastewater, water and disaster management. Oldford said these are the highest priorities in Newfoundland and Labrador communities, which are still trying to adapt to the federal wastewater regulations that came down the pipe a few years ago.

“The federal government made their legislation, which is the law in the land today, and communities or provinces weren’t prepared, because of the huge cost of it,” she said.

Right now, to meet the regulations for wastewater alone, municipalities in the province have about a $500-million deficit of work that would be required, with another $500 million needed to ensure communities have clean drinking water. She said a concerted investment is needed between municipalities and the province and this shows they are on the same page.

Another change to the regulations involves a deal for communities that work together on infrastructure.

“The province listened to the fact that municipal governments had been telling them that communities need to work together and if they do work together there should be an incentive for those that have decided to work together,” she said.

The province will reduce the ratio of municipal contribution by 10 per cent if there’s more than one community involved in an infrastructure project, which can add up to quite a bit on large infrastructure projects.

The cost sharing for roadwork has been changed to 50-50 for municipalities above 3,000 people, which used to be 70-30. Oldford said these changes allow them to focus the majority of the money where it’s needed most and the province is just listening to what they heard from municipalities across the province.