The big 7: 2016 federal budget items that matter to Ottawa
Federal buildings, arts institutions and LRT all in for a cash infusion
Ottawa's unique position as the national capital means the city is on the receiving end of a significant portion of new infrastructure spending in the budget, while the city's many public servants will be tasked with implementing the plans.
Here are a few highlights:
Public transit money
The federal government could foot the bill for a bigger chunk of Ottawa's ambitious second phase of light rail — as much as 50 per cent — according to the budget introduced on Tuesday.
The federal budget is promising what it calls Phase 1 of its infrastructure plan, which includes $3.4 billion over three years to the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund — of which, based on ridership numbers, about 44 per cent is estimated for Ontario.
While the funding figure for Ottawa isn't specific, the budget mentions the second phase of Ottawa's light rail transit line as the kind of project that could receive funding, and suggests that "to get the projects moving quickly," the federal government would fund "up to" 50 per cent of eligible costs, including "soft" costs like design.
That's more than the one-third funding the city was expecting from the federal government in the $1-billion second phase of light rail, which is expected to expand the transit service west to Bayshore, east to Place D'Orleans and south to Bowesville.
With the province already committing to fund a third of the second phase, a boost to the federal contribution could lighten the city's spending by $500 million.
Mayor Jim Watson called the budget "good news."
"This is exactly what the city of Ottawa and municipalities have been asking for," Watson told reporters.
Ottawa and other Canadian big cities were looking to the budget for transit money, and while public transit is one of three pillars of infrastructure spending — along with green investments and affordable housing — details were short on where the money is going beyond the next couple of years.
The initial $3.4 billion for transit, however, is nowhere near "what the transit needs of cities are," said Sahir Khan, a senior visiting fellow at the University of Ottawa and a former assistant parliamentary budget officer.
But Khan said the infrastructure funds also ramp up five years from now, which gives the government time to plan more concretely where the money should be spent.
Ottawa's aging infrastructure, including federal buildings, are about to get a green facelift to reduce their carbon footprint.
Budget 2016 promises to invest $2.1 billion over the next 5 years to revitalize federal assets and buildings across the country and with the national capital region home to about a third of all federal assets, that would equate to about $700 million directed towards buildings in the capital region.
Arts and culture funding
Aging federal buildings aren't the only Ottawa institutions to get money in this budget; Canada's national cultural institutions can are also getting a cash infusion.
The National Arts Centre in Ottawa is getting another $114 million allocated in this budget for renovations of the performance spaces within the building.
And the National Gallery of Canada is getting $9.6 million for repairs. Canada's national museums are also getting an immediate injection of $33 million to address maintenance and operating costs, with $105 million pledged over the next five years.
Affordable housing, social housing
The budget is allocating $2.3 billion over two years to give Canadians greater access to affordable housing, including increasing affordable housing for seniors and retrofitting or renovating existing social housing.
Public service changes
While the government has committed to restoring the relation with the public service, in practical terms there will be some changes in the bureaucracy.
The budget outlines some areas for cuts, including $221 million in consultants, travel and government advertising, starting this year.
It also outlines plans to streamline and share services between departments including: human resources, finance and information technology.
Transport Canada facilities
The budget also includes $8.3 million for improvements to Transport Canada facilities used for aircraft testing and certification, including the Aircraft Services Hangar located at the Mcdonald-Cartier International Airport.