Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure
Municipalities are responsible for at least 60 percent of the public infrastructure in our communities. The demands on existing infrastructure are only increasing, as a result of the age of this infrastructure, poorly supported asset management processes on the part of the provincial government, the lack of stable, non-competitive infrastructure funding, and the absence of a long-term municipal infrastructure plan, developed in partnership with the municipal sector.
The province supports municipal infrastructure through its own funding sources via the cost-shared municipal capital works program. All other municipal infrastructure is funded through and by agreements with the Federal Government, namely the Canada Community Building Fund (formerly the Gas Tax Fund) and the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), which is set to sunset in 2024. These too have provincial and municipal cost-sharing components.
Recent adverse climate events only place more pressure on already precarious municipal infrastructure. We are seeing this here, and elsewhere across the country. However, municipalities are at the mercy of other orders of government for funding to address these issues. These funding programs, namely the Newfoundland and Labrador Disaster Financial Assistance Program and the Government of Canada’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund are difficult to access and administratively burdensome for municipalities. We are also aware that claims are often denied.
The Federal Government’s Fall Economic Statement (p.35) indicates that $212.8 million or 38 percent of Newfoundland and Labrador’s allotment for ICIP remains unspent and needs to be allocated by March 31. At a time when infrastructure needs are at an all-time high and access to funding is imperative, any funding potentially left on the table is not acceptable.
MNL members are clear that the provincial government’s approach to municipal infrastructure and related funding requires change. They passed an infrastructure resolution addressing this at the 2022 Annual General Meeting. As the advocacy organization representing them, MNL is following their lead. We are requesting more transparent and available information on how and where infrastructure is funded; we are demanding a long-term municipal infrastructure plan.