Open Letter to Mayor & Council on Infrastructure Funding

February 5th, 2013

Dear Mayor and City Councillors,

I know I do not have to tell you about London’s infrastructure deficit, because you are faced with that reality every day.

I know that with municipalities receiving only 8 cents of every tax dollar collected, especially here in Ontario where the provincial government has downloaded so many responsibilities to the municipalities without matching funding transfers, it is impossible for our city to ever “catch-up” and fund infrastructure in a sustainable manner. That is the reason I believe so strongly the federal government must step-up and play a leadership role in infrastructure renewal and funding.

In the minority parliament of 2009, as the full impact of the economic collapse was affecting Canada, I was among those opposition MPs who held the government to account and forced the introduction of a stimulus package which included infrastructure investments. I was pleased to work with the former council and city staff, as well as fellow London MPs in supporting London’s “Building Canada Fund” applications for federal funding under this stimulus package.  The result was nearly $97 million in federal funding flowing to London for many infrastructure projects and providing jobs during the worst period of job losses.  

In addition to these funds, additional funds were secured specifically for recreational infrastructure funding, including another $1.98 million in the London-Fanshawe riding.

But for all that London was able to do with these funds, with an infrastructure deficit of close to $1 billion, our community was barely able to put a dent in the ‘to-do-list’ and the reality is the longer we put off infrastructure renewal, the more costly projects become.

Transit service lags far behind demand and rail crossings with overpasses or underpasses are desperately needed on several key roadways. It is the fact that our city needs significant investment in “new” infrastructure in addition to the maintenance and upkeep of existing infrastructure.

And London is not alone, cities from coast-to-coast-to-coast are facing critical infrastructure challenges.

The 2013 federal budget will soon be introduced in parliament. Working together with the FCM and Big City Mayors Caucus, we were able to successfully persuade the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure to commit to announcing a new infrastructure plan in this coming budget. It is vitally important however that we continue to push for an infrastructure fund that makes sense for cities and allows for long term planning and project implementation.

I’m asking you to join me in calling on the Government of Canada to announce an infrastructure fund that:

  • Has a twenty year cycle instead of a two year cycle. Serious projects like rebuilding a highway or a building a new waste water plant take time.
  • Takes politics out of the process by being accountable, transparent, and non-partisan. Clear formulas such as per-capita allocations will ensure reliable, predictable funding for cities.
  • A dedicated transit fund.

It is crucial that this opportunity to help shape a long term infrastructure commitment is not missed. Municipalities are rapidly approaching their own “infrastructure cliff”. At the same time, we know from independent analysis that for every $1 billion in infrastructure investments, 11,000 jobs are created. At a time when job growth and prosperity is a concern across Canada and particularly here at home in London, we must push for a fair, well-designed, long term infrastructure program commitment from the Government of Canada. Our success in the 21st century global economy, and the quality of life for all of us depends upon it.

I urge you to write the Minister today and let him know you stand with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and opposition MPs from all parties in demanding action!

Sincerely,

 

Irene Mathyssen, MP

London-Fanshawe