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.

Just Posted

Shipping oil by rail questioned

Red Deer-area mayors respond

Country star Gord Bamford and The Reclaws perform free Games concert Friday

Show starts at 6:30 p.m. in heated dome off Celebration Plaza in downtown Red Deer

Survey looks at social isolation among older men

Partnership between Red Deer College and Golden Circle Resource Centre

Peruvian brothers travel nearly 8,000 km to volunteer at Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Italo and Mirko Del Castillo say Canadian warmth contrasts with twinter cold

Pride Days celebrated for first time at Canada Winter Games on Feb. 21 and 28

Pride Days are another first for Red Deer’s 2019 Canada Winter Games.… Continue reading

Gardening: What are you planting in 2019?

What’s new in plants for 2019? Checking catalogues, greenhouses and stores will… Continue reading

Opinion: I spy another energy hypocrite

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. The mittens provided to… Continue reading

Canada’s bobsleigh team races World Cup on Calgary home track facing closure

CALGARY — Canada’s skeleton and bobsled teams will race a World Cup… Continue reading

Italy becomes ninth international football league to join forces with CFL

TORONTO — Add Italy to the growing list of international football federations… Continue reading

Toronto Defiant Overwatch academy team to be known as the Montreal Rebellion

MONTREAL — The Toronto Defiant’s Overwatch academy team will be known as… Continue reading

Canadian fashion and design insiders recall Karl Lagerfeld’s charm, ingenuity

TORONTO — Several Canadian fashion and design experts who knew couture icon… Continue reading

Millennial Money: Make your funds move at the speed of life

Change is constant — especially when you’re young. Chances are you’ll cycle… Continue reading

TSB says improved tankers involved in Manitoba derailment that spilled crude

ST. LAZARE, Man. — Federal investigators say CN rail cars that spilled… Continue reading

Most Read