A new sense of optimism followed a meeting between Canada’s big city mayors and the federal infrastructure minister.
In the recent budget, the Trudeau Government announced $60-billion for infrastructure funding, which included $3-billion for public transit projects completed by early 2018.
The mayors however have asked for more flexibility with this timeline and Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced Ottawa is willing to be flexible.
“This is about partnership, this is about ensuring that we are here to support local municipalities,” explained Sohi. “Your federal government is not here to tell municipalities what to do and how to build infrastructure.”
The program consist of two phases, with the first giving out $12-billion for short term projects and the second doling out $48 billion for long term projects.
Sohi says planning for these projects could be funded under the first phase.
“Our goal is to conclude the second phase within this year, so any planning done within this year will carry over to the second phase,” explained Sohi.
Mayor Don Iveson says some details of the $60-billion program still have to be worked out, but the signs from the federal government are that the program will be flexible enough to cover a wide variety of projects.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman told reporters he is pleased to see the “unprecedented” co-operation between municipalities and Ottawa.
The annual meeting will bring together mayors and councillors from across the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will give a speech to the conference Friday morning. (twd, CJOB)