Ontario budget gets mixed reviews in Ottawa
Road and bridge money for city to be announced Thursday
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | 10:27 AM ET
Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien said the city's share of this year's Ontario budget is acceptable, but a group of local housing advocates is not of the same opinion.
The 2008 provincial budget, released by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan Tuesday afternoon, included $8.2 million for social housing and $27 million for public transit in Ottawa, both previously announced.
In addition, Municipal Affairs Minister and Ottawa-West Nepean MPP Jim Watson said Wednesday that some of his colleagues will announce on Thursday how much Ottawa will receive out of the $400 million in the budget's roads and bridges funding.
O'Brien said the budget is "not the big bang that we had last year, but all in all I'm pretty satisfied with how they treated Ottawa."
The 2007 budget was the Liberal government's last one before the provincial election in October, while the 2008 budget comes as the province braces for a possible downturn in the economy.
O'Brien said he understands the province needs to plan for such a possibility. But not everyone was as sympathetic.
Housing advocate disappointed
The group People for a Better Ottawa said the previously announced $8 million allocated in the budget for low-income housing in Ottawa is not enough at a time when the city desperately needs $600 million for affordable housing.
"It's pretty hard when you're walking into a house that's full of mould and where children are living to say to that family, 'Golly, gosh, gee, why don't you just wait 10 years till we get some money from the province to fix this? Because we may have an economic problem in a year's time,' " said Linda Lalonde, spokeswoman for the group, which has been lobbying the province to take back responsibility for social services downloaded to the municipalities.
Ongoing, permanent support is needed to repair the low-income housing, Lalonde added, and a one-time sum does little to help.
"It's a patchwork. It's a drop in the bucket," she said.
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