The 2015 Federal budget announcement of a public transit fund is a huge leap forward for Canada and we tip our hat to Prime Minister Harper for finally having the kahuna’s to announce it. The fund won’t actually start until 2017, and the 750million – 1Billion annual amount is a drop in the bucket to what is needed across the country, but it is the first step to helping cities across the country become competitive on the global stage and it is a step that other party leaders will have to follow.
But the Prime Minister isn’t wading into a pond of alligators, he’s walking into a dry desert desperately in need. A federal Transit fund will allow municipalities across the country to finally look at long term transit plans and allow urban centers like Toronto to have a real opportunity to combat the growing gridlock.
Many transit advocates had hoped the Budget2015 would announce some form of immediate funding, but alas it holds off until after the election, starting in 2017-18 it will provide an additional $750 million over two years for expansion in municipalities, and $1 billion per year ongoing thereafter for a new and innovative Public Transit Fund. ” The fund will work heavily with P3 Canada to ensure that transit infrastructure investment is done in a manner that is “affordable for taxpayers and efficient for commuters.”
Specifics of the Federal Transit Fund suggest that funds will be awarded to projects that are based on the P3 model … “federal support will be allocated based on merit to projects that will be delivered through alternative financing and funding mechanisms involving the private sector that demonstrate value for money for taxpayers, including P3s.” Specifics on the use of Canadian companies and workforce were not mentioned, which is important to ensuring that the Federal transit fund has the the greatest economic impact on our communities.
For decades municipalities have called for a federal dedicated transit fund and this budget demonstrates that finally someone is listening. It will be interesting to see what the other parties announce as the election looms closer, but one thing is certain — they will need to have a dedicated transit fund in their platforms or risk losing voters in urban centres across the country.
It doesn’t matter what your political stripe, the 2015 Budget announcement of a federal transit fund for Canada is a fantastic step forward. It will transform our cities significantly and allow us to be much more competitive globally. It is the right, reasonable and responsible approach to building cities across the country, and it is long overdue.