Get to work on infrastructure

It’s time for higher levels of government to end the patriarchal treatment of municipalities

Last week, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh appointed Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach as Critic for Infrastructure and Communities.

This is obviously a nod to Bachrach’s experience in municipal government first as a Telkwa councillor for three years and mayor of Smithers for the past eight.

It’s an important portfolio.

For some time, Canada has suffered from an infrastructure deficit. Municipalities big and small—which own 60 per cent of the nation’s infrastructure—are constantly scrounging for cash.

Smithers’ aging water and sewer infrastructure needs replacing. Our hospital turns 100 next year. We have sidewalks to finish.

In a Facebook post following Singh’s announcement Nov. 27 at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Bachrach wrote:

“This is a key file given the role of infrastructure in Canadians’ quality of life and its central importance in tackling the climate crisis. I look forward to building on my decade of experience in local government to help deliver results.

“Let’s get to work!”

We agree and here, Mr. Bachrach, is what you should be working on.

Ending the patriarchy.

Revenue streams for local governments are constitutionally hampered by the division of powers and there is only so much taxation property owners can bear.

Municipal budgets typically struggle even to cover operational expenses.

So, every time a major need arises, mayors, councillors and other third party organizations have to go cap in hand to the Province and/or feds.

Even if we don’t dismantle the grant system completely, cities and towns need to have predictable and permanent income in order to facilitate self-determination.

This was the reason for the Gas Tax Fund, which the federal government implemented in 2005.

Revenue sharing should be extended to and/or increased on other sources of income including sales taxes, natural resource royalties and even personal income taxes.

Keeping municipalities beholden to higher levels of government is not just patriarchal, it’s political.

It needs to stop.

Let’s get to work.

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