Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says the Liberals are setting aside $250 million over five years in a dedicated fund for rural transit. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says the Liberals are setting aside $250 million over five years in a dedicated fund for rural transit. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Dedicated rural transit money to help fund ‘innovative’ services, McKenna says

Funding will be announced Monday as part of $15 billion in planned transit spending over eight years

OTTAWA — Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says new dedicated transit funding for rural communities could be used for on-demand services, not just traditional systems.

The Liberals are setting aside $250 million over five years in a dedicated fund for rural transit.

Federal infrastructure programs that help build or update transit systems have funded rural projects, but McKenna notes they don’t have a dedicated funding stream.

McKenna says the government needs to make sure that transit funding considers rural communities, and is not solely focused on how to get people around major urban centres.

Rural communities often don’t lend themselves to traditional mass-transit bus and subways systems, with more sparsely populated areas and residents who may travel out of town for work or school.

McKenna says there are some creative transit solutions that have caught the government’s attention, from app-based on-demand services to ride-sharing arrangements.

“There are examples of clear opportunities and I think that we have to be innovative,” she said in an interview.

“It’s really looking at those opportunities, which can also be cost-effective, but provide better service.”

McKenna said the effects from the pandemic will mean that federal infrastructure dollars will also need to more quickly fund projects to keep rural communities competitive.

“In some of these communities, if you don’t have good transit, it’s a real disadvantage,” she said.

“I hear from mayors. They say it’s a disadvantage to attract investment because people want to go where you have good public transit, you’re able to get around.”

The funding being announced Monday is part of $15 billion in planned transit spending over eight years, the details of which the Liberals have rolled out over the past few weeks.

The Liberals are promising billions in permanent transit funding as part of a post-pandemic recovery, including $3 billion annually in a transit fund starting in five years.

There are expectations that the government will roll traditional infrastructure spending into its upcoming budget to help with an economic recovery from COVID-19.

The Liberals have a $188-billion, 12-year infrastructure program, about half of which is funding created by the previous Conservative government, that the government hoped would aid in economic growth.

Last week, the federal auditor general warned that holes in reporting and delayed spending put the overall program at risk of falling short of its goals.

“There’s more we can be doing and I think there are lessons learned,” McKenna said of the report. “Every taxpayer dollar has to get multiple outcomes, and that is more important than ever.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2021.

federal governmentTransit

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

Just Posted

Red Deer City Hall. (File photo)
Red Deerians will see a slight tax increase, but the municipal portion is at zero per cent

The provincial educational requisition went up by about half a per cent

The length of grass on people’s lawns could be part of the new Community Standards bylaw being considered by Red Deer city council. (Black Press file photo).
Loitering, noise complaints, swearing covered in proposed bylaw

A few old rules could be dropped and new rules added

Heather Buelow, owner of Aerial Edge Studio in Blackfalds, says she has spent all of her savings to keep the studio going through government-mandated shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Either open in-person or close permanently: Central Alberta yoga studio defying rules

A central Alberta woman is allowing clients back into her traditional and… Continue reading

Sweden skip Niklas Edin makes a shot against Scotland in the Men's World Curling Championship gold medal final in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, April 11, 2021. Curling's Humpty's Champions Cup in Calgary has been pushed back a day due to the delayed finish of the men's world championship. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Start of Humpty’s Champions Cup pushed back a day in Calgary

Start of Humpty’s Champions Cup pushed back a day in Calgary

Men’s world curling championship in Calgary concludes amid COVID scare

Men’s world curling championship in Calgary concludes amid COVID scare

New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, April 12, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Higashioka and Cole help Yankees beat Blue Jays 3-1

Higashioka and Cole help Yankees beat Blue Jays 3-1

Alberta doctors say trust must be rebuilt after proposed new labour deal rejected

Alberta doctors say trust must be rebuilt after proposed new labour deal rejected

People line up in the rain for a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up clinic at the Masjid Darus Salaam in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood in Toronto on Sunday, April 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Provinces defend health restrictions as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise

Provinces defend health restrictions as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta legislature Speaker apologizes for condemning new COVID health restrictions

Alberta legislature Speaker apologizes for condemning new COVID health restrictions

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Madelyn Boyko poses along with a number of the bath bombs she makes with her mom, Jessica Boyko. Madelyn says she enjoys making the bath bombs with her mom as it is a special time for just the two of them. (Photo Submitted)
5-year-old Sylvan Lake girl selling bath bombs in support of younger brother

Madelyn Boyko is selling bath bombs for CdLS research in honour of her younger brother

Most Read