Martensville Deputy Mayor Jamie Martens

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Board of Directors is calling on the federal government to provide increased funding to municipalities to enable them to invest in public infrastructure. The FCM board met recently in Durham, Ontario to discuss municipal priorities ahead of the federal budget, slated to be unveiled on Tuesday, March 28.

Martensville Deputy Mayor Jamie Martens, an elected member of the FCM Board representing Saskatchewan cities, said in a report to the March 21 meeting of Martensville City Council that replacing and upgrading water and wastewater facilities are high priorities.

“Municipalities across the country are facing significant challenges,” said Martens, noting the current federal funding model is outdated.

“Municipalities own and maintain a large proportion of key public infrastructure, and much of it is in poor condition,” she said.”The estimated cost of addressing all municipal assets currently in poor condition is over $175 billion.”

She said the FCM wants the federal government to double the Canada Community Building Fund (former known as the Gas Tax Fund), implement a new dedicated water and wastewater infrastructure fund, and invest in inter-community transit. “These are efficient, cost-effective measures that will make life better in this country,” said Martens.

She noted the FCM is continuing its three-year project of encouraging women’s participation in local government.

The FCM is also hoping the federal budget will increase its Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund by at least $1 billion annually over the next ten years to address the effects of extreme climate events on municipal infrastructure.

Municipal leaders say they want to work closely with the federal government to address the ongoing shortage of affordable housing. The FCM is advocating “a swift and effective rollout of the federal Housing Accelerator Fund in close collaboration with municipalities through FCM, to increase the supply of housing to those sectors of the population most in need.

The FCM board repeated its call that the federal government pick up the cost of retroactive pay associated with the new RCMP bargaining agreements.