With the announcement of the 2008 budget earlier today, it’s worth examining what funding, if any, the Conservative government has allotted for cities and for Toronto specifically. While the city’s One Cent Now campaign was never seen as a likely prospect, there was some hope for funding for Toronto’s six main cultural institutions as well as some much needed municipal infrastructure upgrades.
In the end, urban issues were placed on the back burner in favour of funds to assist Canada’s manufacturing and auto industries and various adjustments to Canada’s tax structure, many of which were previously announced.
Aside from the $1 billion Community Development Trust to help workers and communities threatened by the decline of manufacturing and the entrenchment of the all ready established gas tax to fund cities, the only major funding for cities is a $500 million trust dedicated to public transit. The budget states:
Budget 2008 sets aside up to $500 million in 2007—08 to be paid into a third-party trust, allocated on a provincial-territorial per capita basis, for public transit infrastructure. Funding will be paid into the trust, once legislation has been passed, for only those beneficiaries that have made public commitments before March 31, 2008 to undertake investments in public transit. The beneficiaries of the trust will have the flexibility to draw down the funding as they require over the next two years. They are encouraged to report publicly on the expenditures financed and outcomes achieved.
The trust will be used for specific projects of capital infrastructure such as rapid transit, rail, transit buses, and high occupancy vehicle and bicycle lanes.
While the budget doesn’t detail which specific projects will be included, the Globe and Mail says Vancouver and Montreal will receive funding, and that a portion of the money will be allocated towards re-establishing a rail link between Union Station and Peterborough.
Photo by Ken Lewis