Liberal infrastructure changes mean money for ferries, small roads

Provincial governments are being told the first phase of the Liberal infrastructure program will cover the cost of new projects, as long as they are completed in three years.

OTTAWA — Provincial governments are being told the first phase of the Liberal infrastructure program will cover the cost of new projects, as long as they are completed in three years.

The message is contained in letters from federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi to his provincial counterparts to be made public today .

Project costs for transit and waste-water and water-treatment projects will be eligible retroactive to April 1, “so work can begin immediately,” Sohi writes.

The first phase of the Liberals’ promised 10-year infrastructure plan wraps up in 2019 — just as the country heads to the polls in a federal election — and is mostly focused on repairing aging roads, pipes and transit systems across the country. It is also designed to lay the foundation for the second and more lucrative phase of the Liberal plan by covering planning costs for larger projects.

“There is money for design, there is money for planning and there is money for doing small projects if they are ready to move ahead with them,” Sohi told reporters at the Liberal cabinet retreat in Kananaskis, Alta.

“There are big challenges related to not doing the rehabilitation and the repairs that are necessary and for Phase 2 we have already started consultations with (cities) and that’s where we will have the opportunities to support transformative projects.”

The first two years of the new program includes $6.6 billion in cash for provinces and cities, not including money promised to First Nations infrastructure or to universities.

The Liberals pledged in the budget, flowing from a campaign promise, to double infrastructure spending over the next 10 years to bring the overall federal investment to $120 billion.

The letters Sohi sent out last week also outline changes to the government’s existing marquee infrastructure program, known as the New Building Canada Fund.

About $8.7 billion remains from the provincial and territorial stream of that fund and the letters make clear the Liberals want the remaining money allocated to projects within the next two years.

The Liberals have previously vowed to speed up the federal approval process for money under the fund unveiled by the previous Conservative government in 2014.

The letters say the government is expanding the projects eligible under that program, including work on modest highways and roads in smaller provinces like Prince Edward Island, that previously didn’t qualify because they weren’t big enough in scope or impact.

The federal government is also going to fund eligible project costs for ferry systems that provinces like B.C. wanted included in the fund.

Sohi writes the government plans to cover up to half the cost of disaster-mitigation projects, including those that would fight floods in provinces like Alberta and Manitoba, and any projects delivered as a public-private partnership, known as a P3.

The government has removed the requirement for communities to always look for a private-sector partner on projects, but hasn’t abandoned the idea: In a speech last week at a conference on public-private partnerships, Sohi said the government believes some projects are best suited to a P3, citing the new Champlain Bridge in Montreal and the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Windsor, Ont.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Jayden Grubbe is one of three Rebels on the NHL Central Scouting players to watch list for the 2021 NHL Draft. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Rebels seek consistency ahead of matchup with Hitmen

The Red Deer Rebels had to deal with a pang of regret… Continue reading

Quinn Mason died from an opioid overdose at the age of 23 in June 2020. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta mother whose son died from overdose advocates for ‘change’

It’s been about nine months since her son died from an overdose,… Continue reading

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday that the province was ready to move forward with Phase 2A and B in the coming weeks. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
Majority of Albertans to receive first shot before June 30: Shandro

Shandro says all Albertans should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

Alberta’s Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer spoke on Thursday by webinar to Red Deer Chamber of Commerce members. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Alberta’s economic diversification is already underway, says Jobs Minister

From the geothermal to the TV industry, new jobs will be created, said Doug Schweitzer

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Phil Noble, Pool via AP)
Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier (14) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen reacts to a goal by Winnipeg Jets' Paul Stastny, left, during first-period NHL hockey action in Montreal on Thursday, March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Pierre-Luc Dubois scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets edge Montreal Canadiens 4-3

Pierre-Luc Dubois scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets edge Montreal Canadiens 4-3

Toronto Raptors guard Terence Davis (0) shoots after grabbing a rebound against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Boston. At right is Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Tatum scores 27, Celtics outlast depleted Raptors 132-125

Tatum scores 27, Celtics outlast depleted Raptors 132-125

International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel answers a question during a news conference addressing hockey issues at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. The International Ice Hockey Federation has confirmed the postponement of the women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May 6-16. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Mark Humphrey
IIHF postpones women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May

IIHF postpones women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May

Quebec Premier François Legault chairs a virtual news conference Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. The premiers from the left are: John Horgan, B.C.; Jason Kenney, Alberta; Scott Moe, Saskatchewan; Legault, Quebec; Brian Pallister, Manitoba; Doug Ford, Ontario; and Blaine Higgs, New Brunswick. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Most Read