Budget no help to cash strapped Cape Breton
CBRM council hoped the budget would have money for infrastructure work
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is short on money and said it hoped the province would announce infrastructure funding for the municipality in Thursday's provincial budget, but that didn't happen.
As it stands the CBRM can't afford to do any paving this year, only patch pot holes.
The municipality had asked the provincial and federal governments to commit to a five year, $225 million capital plan.
The CBRM would put $75 million into the plan.
But the municipality received only a slight mention when Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald delivered her budget.
"Our government is ready to begin discussions with the federal government about the successor to the Build Canada Fund so that beginning in 2014, communities that have pressing infrastructure needs and a plan to address them like the one brought forward by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, can get to work and put more Nova Scotians to work in the process," said MacDonald.
CBRM's deputy Mayor Kevin Saccary said that's all very fine, but it's too little too late for the region.
"The municipality does not have any money for paving this year, at all. The reason for that is if we continue to borrow we may be in such a state that we may have to, you know hand the keys over to the province and tell them to run it."
Saccary said, even if the province did not allocate infrastructure money for Cape Breton this year, a commitment to joint funding in the future would strengthen the municipality's funding request to the federal government.
"The Plan B I guess is status quo. At this point there is nothing we can do. We can't get blood from a stone. We're just barely trying to function as it is financially and the taxpayer can't dig any deeper as far as I'm concerned."
Saccary said he believes the province could afford to help and the municipality will be looking for an explanation from Cape Breton's NDP MLA's.
The municipality will also approach the federal government with a request for immediate infrastructure aid.
Too soon to commit
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald is responding to the criticism.
She said it’s premature to commit a specific amount of money to CBRM's infrastructure plan.
MacDonald said she needs to know what money is available from the federal government first.
"As we know more about the federal agreement, we will move this along," she said.