Cities and the 2008 Budget

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


  1. “a portion of the money will be allocated towards re-establishing a rail link between Union Station and Peterborough”

    Not sure if this is a priority for anyone other than Jim Flaherty – I’d like to know where this falls in GO Transit’s actual priority need, though the same might be said of some MoveOntario2020 projects.

    The permanent fuel tax is welcome but Martin should have done that from day one rather than messing around with “temporary” programmes.

    I’m also betting that some of the new infrastructure money will be tied to the involvement of the Tories’ new PPPCanada organisation.

  2. I could take another liberal scandal if it meant we wouldnt have to deal with this alberta based government, their suburban and upper middle class budgets.

  3. As a conservative, I think that the budget does go in the right direction EXCEPT for the part about the transit funding. It’s quite obvious that the Peterborough Link to Ontario is nothing more than a plum for Tory seats in the area: the line ends at a rookie Tory MP’s riding, runs through SEVERAL other Tory ridings as well as Flaherty’s.

    All in all, that is the biggest nonsense that I have seen within this Tory government. It’s no surprise that the Leftist Toronto Start, and the Right wing Toronto Sun are both firing flak at Flaherty. The Toronto Sun takes the cake on this: it says we should have an efficient transit network first before giving Peterborough its rail line. $150 million for a rail line that serves only 900 passengers a day? You tell me how this helps gridlock in Toronto.

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