Mayor maneuvers for federal financing
Fougere requests $35 million for city’s infrastructure
Regina’s mayor, Michael Fougere, is on his way back to the city after attending the Big City Mayors’ Caucus in Ottawa on Thursday and Friday of last week. In attendance were twenty other municipal leaders from large cities across the country, as well as ministers and representatives from the federal government.
At the event, the mayors met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss a variety of topics including the Liberal infrastructure plan, the resettlement of Syrian refuges arriving in Canada, public safety, disaster mitigation, and the municipal role in climate change strategies.
Mayor Fougere said that he was “encouraged” by the presence of federal leadership at the gathering.
“It shows the recognize the need for us to work together as equal partners,” Fougere said, “especially on areas of vital importance like infrastructure spending.”
Trudeau described the two-day meetings as “restarting a relationship” between the nation’s federal and municipal governments, a relationship that he claimed had been neglected under the nation’s previous government.
“Ensuring we get the money flowing in a responsible and rapid way is a priority for all of us,” the Prime Minister said at a press conference last Friday.
“We are ensuring that we invest in our communities and the infrastructure that is needed to create jobs in the short term,” said Trudeau, “but also to create economic growth in the medium and long term.”
Most of the mayors in attendance were eager to hear the details of the Liberal government’s plan to invest in infrastructure nationwide. According to the Liberal Party website, the plan would “double current federal infrastructure investment to $10 billion per year from $5 billion.”
Mayor Fougere was able to request that $35 million be allocated to Regina under the Liberal infrastructure investment plan. Fougere says the money could be used to refurbish the city’s aging transit garage, or for bridge and road repairs including the Winnipeg Street overpass.
While Fougere is optimistic about the request, he is keeping his expectations realistic.
“Whether we get that [amount] or not is another question,” the Mayor said, noting that while the $35 million would be a good start, the city needs at least $2 billion in infrastructure repairs and improvements.
Currently, there is no firm timeline for when the cities will receive their first taste of the increased federal infrastructure budget, or when they will find out how much they have been allocated under the new plan. Even so, Fougere views the meetings as a successful.
“The meetings were very productive, and I am grateful to the federal cabinet ministers that spoke and participated during the sessions. I believe we made significant progress on the files that were on the table.”
When asked how the federal government would allocate funding to areas experiencing different levels of economic prosperity, Trudeau emphasized the need for fairness, while ensuring that the needs of all regions are met:
“We are focused on being both flexible and fair in how we engage. Cities across the country have varied and diverse needs, and we are meeting with them, and we’re talking with them about where their priorities are, and how best we can create opportunities for Canadians.”