Pubdate: Fri, 16 Feb 2018
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2018 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Dylan Robertson
Page: A4


Bowman wants help getting promised provincial funding for

OTTAWA - Mayor Brian Bowman says he wants Ottawa to push the Pallister
government to cough up more funding for infrastructure projects in the
city, and to also give the city a handsome portion of tax collected
from legalized marijuana.

"The challenge many of the big city mayors are having is ensuring that
those funds are flowing through the provinces, and getting to
municipalities to support municipal priorities," Bowman said Thursday,
on the sidelines of the Big City Mayors' Caucus in Ottawa.

Two weeks ahead of the federal budget, the mayors of 22 of Canada's
largest municipalities met with Liberal cabinet ministers and asked
them to accelerate the cash they expect to spend after the 2019
federal election.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, who is chairman of the caucus, praised
November's $40-billion national housing strategy, but said public
housing in cities has become old and in disrepair because of
inadequate federal funding.

"We'd like to get those back in the hands of Canadians who need them
and create the jobs now - not in a year or two," he said.

Iveson suggested that major infrastructure projects should be

Owith the federal and provincial governments each paying 40 per cent,
and the cities paying half that, because they hold the most population
but have the least power to collect taxes. That would change the
current formula in which each level of government pays one third.

Ottawa has already bumped up its share of funding for some transit
projects to 40 per cent from 33 per cent, which left provinces and
cities each paying 30 per cent. "We appreciate that the federal
government is mindful of the realities of local governments," said
Iveson, something he said Ottawa could "remind the provinces" about.

He said provinces such as Ontario and British Columbia have almost
entirely funded projects such as public transit.

The meeting was the first in years where the mayors did not ask for
more federal funding, instead focusing on timelines and cracking open
provincial coffers.

Bowman said he hopes federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi
will get Premier Brian Pallister on board with the city's wish list.

Last fall, Winnipeg shelved eight projects it had nominated for
federal funding because the cash-strapped province restricted its own
spending, and the Liberals have made their funding contingent on
provincial cost-matching.

Bowman wouldn't comment on whether the federal Liberals have been
effective at getting the Pallister government on side.

"What we're trying to do is work collaboratively with the federal
government, and do it in a way that allows us to assist them in
liberating some of their dollars to Winnipeg and Manitoba," he said.

He said he's particularly concerned about the "accelerated regional
roads" project, which would ease congestion for Winnipeg drivers. City
council passed the initiative last summer, but it's still waiting for
federal funding through a program that ends next month.

Bowman reiterated his call to give Winnipeg funding to make up for
extra policing and zoning costs associated with legalized recreational

He said Thursday that Ottawa suggested provinces give cities 25 per
cent of the $1-per-gram excise tax on cannabis products.

Last December, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau brokered a deal
with all provinces except Manitoba, on a formula in which provinces
take in more than three-quarters of tax revenue from legalized
marijuana. A month earlier, Ottawa had suggested a 50-50 split, which
the provinces mocked.

Bowman believes Ottawa's 25 per cent bump-up for the provinces was
intended to go to cities. "They have made it very clear, publicly and
privately, with the provinces and with municipalities, that the
intention was to provide 25 per cent of those revenues to
municipalities," he said.

He said even that amount likely won't be enough to pay for $5 million
in city expenditures. That's the amount the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities said recreational marijuana will cost Winnipeg.

Morneau's office said Thursday they'd never explicitly suggested a
percentage for provinces to pass on to municipalities, but that their
extra share of excise tax was meant to be shared with towns. The
federal government has limited jurisdiction over municipal issues.

Manitoba is still in talks with federal officials about the excise
tax. In December, Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said
Ottawa shouldn't wade into how much cash cities get.

"The province is best situated to broker those conversations and
relationships with municipal leaders back home," Friesen said at the
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt