City councillor joins national bid for federal infrastructure funds

FCM seeks billions to expand program

Kamloops Daily News
November 14, 2012 01:00 AM

Nancy Bepple

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is calling for Ottawa to beef up infrastructure funds and make them available for the next two decades.

The national organization is asking the federal government to boost its infrastructure funds up to $5.75 billion a year - $2.5 billion more than is currently offered.

Coun. Nancy Bepple, who sits on the FCM committee negotiating with the feds on the funding issue, said Tuesday the current infrastructure program expires in 2014, after next year's construction season.

"The strongest thing is that FCM as a whole has a united strategy which means from the smallest communities to the largest, there was unanimous agreement what we would be negotiating with the federal government. That makes it easier to get a deal. Everybody's on board across the country," she said.

Bepple will be going to Ottawa next week to lobby MPs and ministers to expand the infrastructure funding program.

"We want some certainty for some projects we have upcoming," she said.

She estimated that Kamloops has about $150 million in its capital plans for infrastructure projects in the coming years.

"It's roads, pipes, pumps and reservoirs. The City is ahead of others in terms of water. And we're well away into upgrading wastewater system," she said.

"But you're better to replace infrastructure before there's a catastrophic failure. We do have a huge amount of aging infrastructure in Kamloops."

So does Merritt, said Mayor Susan Roline.

"We have aging sewer lines, we have aging water lines and there's always the need to upgrade as new stricter regulations come in," she said.

"Requirements change frequently. What might be a good operating system now can change almost overnight where you need UV (water treatment) where chlorination has worked for a number of years."

Merritt is facing more than $2 million for a couple of street rehabilitation projects. For a community of its size, that's a lot of money, she said.

One of those projects, Parker Drive, was built in the 1960s and the ground under the asphalt is falling away and not supporting water and sewer lines.

While the city sets aside money for replacement work every year, the needs keep getting bigger, said Roline.

"Then what we do is push that all onto our local taxpayers. It's not just our local taxpayers who use our infrastructure," she said.

"People think there's an endless supply of money. And we pay it because it has to be done."

The FCM has a strong relationship with the current federal government, which could help, she said.

"The federal government seems to listen to large groups like that." I think they'll go along to what they can afford.

The FCM is hoping for a response by January.

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