While B.C.’s mayors would like a federal infrastructure grant program to be fired up sooner than 2014, the reality is, they have to follow the Conservative government’s timeline.
Mayor Peter Milobar said the B.C. Mayors’ Caucus, formed earlier this year, was united on lobbying for a beefed-up infrastructure-funding program.
Speaking from the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Victoria Tuesday, Milobar said the second meeting of the caucus attracted more than 140 mayors — double the number who met in Penticton for the inaugural gathering in spring.
“We have so many mayors now we have a cohesive voice,” he said.
The caucus is mostly focussed on the infrastructure issue, and backs the UBCM and Federation of Canadian Municipalities in their efforts to get programs reinstated and improved.
What the B.C. mayors came up with is “almost lock step with what FCM is asking for in 2014,” he said.
“The problem is, we would like something sooner rather than later. But 2014 is when the new federal program should be in place,” said Milobar.
Lack of adequate funds, restrictive criteria and appropriate needs are among the concerns the mayors expressed about the new program when it does start up, he said.
Kamloops, however, has had a good share of infrastructure money in the last several years, which has gone into such projects as the new water treatment plant and sewage treatment system upgrades, he said.
“We don’t have a whole lot to complain about in how we’ve been treated. We’ve seen some good projects over the last five years.”
When you’re sitting there listening to what some of the other communities are facing, it’s heartwarming to know we’re not too bad off.
Because the mayors’ caucus is so new, it did raise a few eyebrows at UBCM. Some of the non-mayors felt the group was excluding others, but Milobar pointed out that there are meetings at UBCM that are only for electoral area directors and for regional chairs.
“We as a group of mayors don’t see this as anything different than that. We’re trying to support the work UBCM and FCM are doing,” he said.
The B.C.Mayors’ Caucus meets again in April. Leaders of the four provincial political parties are being invited, along with some federal representatives.