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Is Prince George spending money meant for environmental projects on road rehab?

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The city of Prince George is spending a record $9.8 million on fixing city roads. Former mayor Dan Rogers is concerned money meant for environmental projects is being funneled into this budget.

The former mayor of Prince George says the city is spending money meant for environmental projects on road rehab.

The city announced earlier this year that a record $9.8 million would be spent on road projects, $2 million of which comes from the federal gas tax fund.

Former mayor Dan Rogers says this is breaking the rules. He believes money from the fund must be spent in one of three areas: making cleaner air, making cleaner water, or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Rogers says by spending money on road projects, the city is breaking a legally binding agreement.

"My daughter's in grade eight, I think you can ask the science class if cranking up the asphalt plants reduces greenhouse gas emissions," he says.

In the past, Prince George used federal gas tax money for creating the district energy system that uses wood waste to heat downtown buildings. It's also been used to create walking trails to reduce reliance on cars.

In a letter to the city of Prince George from August 2013, the Union of B.C. Municipalities says road projects qualify for the gas tax fund if they contribute to reducing greenhouse gas. As an example, they say smoother roads can reduce friction and lower emissions.

Listen: Daybreak's Andrew Kurjata explains how the gas tax fund works, and why Rogers is concerned

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Prince George city councillor Cameron Stolz says the environmental component of the fund has since been removed, bringing B.C. in line with the rest of Canada.

"Starting in 2014, moving forward, we have full access to use the gas tax funds as we desire."

Stolz says the environmental component was in place because cities in the Lower Mainland wanted to focus on public transit.

"When you're looking at Prince George, we have a very limited number of buses that we can buy and provide that actually has an impact on our community."

Rogers disagrees. 

"It's absolutely clear, despite any changes that might have occurred within the tables that is the test It needs to be either an environmental improvement that makes cleaner air, water, or reduces greenhouse gas emissions."

External Links:

How does your city spend Federal Gas Tax money?

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has created an online calculator so you can find out how different cities are using the gas tax fund. See some highlights below, or find your own city using the calculator.

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