BIA calls for greater local control over new federal infrastructure funding

The Roncesvalles Living Sidewalk Project has received strong support from all three Residents’ Associations and the Roncesvalles Village BIA, and yet a substantial funding gap remains. The federal government has proposed to release new funds for infrastructure projects, of which our project certainly deserves priority:

Our project would integrate Roncesvalles’ stormwater sewer with an innovative new tree planting system that would finally allow urban trees to grow to maturity, instead of dying within 5-10 years of age. Sidewalks, instead of acting like funnels channelling water rapidly into the sewers, would become massive absorption pads, sucking up huge amounts of water and reducing the frequency of raw sewage overflows into our lake. In addition, mature urban trees will provide shade, cool the street and absorb 15 times as much carbon dioxide and airborne pollutants as the same tree in a rural setting. And of course, trees are beautiful and well-loved.

Parkdale-High Park MP Gerard Kennedy and and Ward 14 Councillor Gord Perks both make a powerful argument that the Gas Tax Transfer model of federal funding is far more efficient, fair and accountable than the various intergovernmental cost-sharing schemes that often bog down in red tape and jurisdictional intrigues. Yesterday, Mr. Kennedy moved that half of new federal infrastructure money be governed using the Gas Tax Transfer model. 

The BIA believes that Mr. Kennedy’s motion, if passed by parliament, would greatly increase the chances of full funding for the Roncesvalles project. We urge BIA members to contact Mr. Kennedy and their own MP, as well as John Baird, Canadian Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (mintc@nulltc.gc.ca), to express your support for using the Gas Tax Transfer model to distribute new infrastructure funds.

UPDATE (Mar 11): Mr. Kennedy’s motion passed (See Inside Toronto for details). But follow-up is still needed. The government, not parliament, is in charge of spending the stimulus money, and it has still not agreed to adopt the Gas Tax Transfer model. If you haven’t already, the BIA hopes you will please take the time to write Minister John Baird. Please copy Mr. Kennedy as well.