New Public Transit Fund will allocate $1 billion annually to Canadian cities
By Mercedes Deutscher, Staff Reporter
The federal government announced on April 21, along with its federal budget, that it will allocate $1 billion annually toward transit projects in major Canadian cities.
The new funding is scheduled to begin in the 2017–18 fiscal year. For the first two years of the fund, the federal government will give $750 million to help fund transportation projects. After the first two years, that amount will be increased to $1 billion.
PPP Canada will be responsible for managing the Public Transit Fund. The PPP may choose to fund municipal transit projects based on the merit and standards shown by project coordinators, and reserve the right to remove funding or penalize if poor performance is shown.
Whether or not this funding will remain concrete will depend on the results of this year’s federal election, and if a new party will decide to keep the funding should they be elected. “The new transit funding commitments in [the] budget [is] good news for Metro Vancouver,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in a Mayors’ Council news conference.
Mayor Robertson has been advising Metro Vancouver residents to vote “Yes” in the ongoing Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Referendum. “This new funding program, together with existing federal infrastructure programs announced in previous budgets, means the federal government now has the resources needed to partner with us in realizing our vision.”
Robertson further urges voters to support the Mayors’ Council’s plan, as he explains that federal funding programs usually require a one-third share from each government (federal, provincial, and local).
“Transport Minister Todd Stone has assured us that the province is ready to support us in building out our plan. It is now up to us, in this region, to come up with our own share so we can compete for these available funds.”
Mayors from all over Canada are rejoicing over the Public Transit Fund, including Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and Toronto Mayor John Tory. However, the fund has also been met with skepticism from the big cities’ mayors, as they feel that the funding is not enough and is coming only after years of asking.
“Would we like to have it all come at once? Of course,” said Tory to Global News. “But this is the first time any government of any stripe in this country has stepped up and has established a permanent fund for major public transit projects.”