Nfld. & Labrador

$10M announced to plug 'billion dollar' infrastructure problem

Towns around the province face "emerging crisis" in drinking water and waste water treatment, according to MNL

Towns to cough up $4M for cost-shared program

Tony Keats, president of Municipalities NL, says using provincial and town funds to leverage even more money from Ottawa is important. (Gary Locke/CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has announced a list of 48 towns which will get money to beef up their water services, roads and fire departments in Tuesday's provincial budget.

The province will spend $10,674,974 on the infrastructure projects, with municipalities chipping in another $4,059,708.

"Any time a municipality receives money is a great day in our province. We can do with every dollar that we can get," said Tony Keats, president of Municipalities NL.

It's a drop in the bucket, though, with what Keats called "an emerging crisis" that's looming for towns in the province.

"In drinking water and waste water treatment, [we] require an investment of over a billion dollars over the next 10 years. We're not talking chump change. We're talking a lot of money," Keats said.

Best bang for the buck

Much of the money announced Wednesday is for water related work, but there is also money for community centres, fire halls and road upgrading.

Municipal Affairs Minister Eddy Joyce and Premier Dwight Ball says infrastructure money helps create jobs as well as improve services. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Lawn, on the Burin Peninsula, is allocated $1,285,438 from the province to upgrade its water and sewer and will spend another $142,826 of its own money.

L'Anse au Clair, in southern Labrador, gets just over $1 million in provincial money for a community centre, town office and fire hall, with the community agreeing to spend another $725,468.

Conception Harbour and North River will see about $250,000 each in road upgrades and repaving, in a 50-50 cost share with the province.

"Infrastructure is the government's best bang ... especially when it is cost-shared," said Jim Organ, executive director of the Heavy Civil Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We're not talking chump change. We're talking a lot of money- Tony Keats

For every dollar spent on infrastructure, the province gets 30 per cent to 40 per cent back in taxation revenue, and eight to 12 jobs for every $1 million spent, he said.

Premier Dwight Ball said the province is also trying to maximize spending by leveraging money from federal programs such as the Small Communities Fund.

The money announced Wednesday is part of a three-year spending program.

Both Municipalities NL and the contractors' group praised the provincial government for reducing red tape and calling early tenders to make the most of the short construction season.

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