The federal budget has money for national parks and a few ongoing transportation projects, but municipalities eager to tap into a $14-billion federal fund for infrastructure projects over the next decade will have to wait a little longer for details on the application process.
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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty outlined some specific transportation infrastructure projects, including more money for the Windsor-Detroit International crossing and to rehabilitate Montreal's bridges, plus support for Atlantic ferries and to improve regional ports.
The budget also includes plans to provide Parks Canada $391.5 million over five years to make improvements to highways, bridges and dams in national parks and historic canals.
But municipal leaders had been eager for details of the $14-billion, 10-year Building Canada Fund so they can plan for the upcoming construction season and factor any funding into their own infrastructure projects.
The government would only say it was consulting with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities "to finalize the parameters" of the fund, and that it was committed to launching it by March 31.
Without the details, cities have had to wait to find out if projects are eligible before applying. But the federal government irked some municipal leaders last September, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty pledged $660 million from the fund to Toronto for the extension of a subway line.
The fund is part of a larger $53-billion Building Canada plan that also includes previously announced measures such as $21.8 billion over 10 years through the Gas Tax Fund and $10.4 billion over 10 years under the incremental Goods and Services Tax Rebate for Municipalities.
Millions for bridges and parks
Outside of the fund, however, the government did outline a number of priority infrastructure projects, all of which would receive funding over two years, including:
- $470 million to support procurement and project delivery for the Windsor-Detroit International Crossing.
- $165 million to advance construction of a new bridge over the St. Lawrence to replace Champlain Bridge in Montreal.
- $378 million to repair and maintain federal bridges in the Greater Montreal Area.
- $58 million to support ferry services between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and Prince Edward Island and Quebec.
- $40 million to accelerate repair and maintenance work at small craft harbours across Canada.
- $33 million to support the divestiture of regional ports to local interests.
The $391.5 million for Parks Canada would be earmarked for a number of proposed projects, including paving and other repairs to the section of the Trans-Canada Highway which passes through Glacier National Park in British Columbia, as well as structural repairs to the Crow Bay Dam, which is part of the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario.
Other proposed investments focused on the country's parks and recreation facilities outside the Parks Canada funding include:
- An additional $15 million for two years for the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships.
- $10 million over two years to improve and expand snowmobile and recreational trails across Canada.
- $3 million over three years to support the Earth Rangers Foundation.
- $200,000 in 2014-15 to study the feasibility of repairing the breakwater that connects Partridge Island to mainland New Brunswick.