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Municipal organizations push local priorities ahead of federal budget

The federal government is expected to deliver its 2017 budget tomorrow. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) met recently in Whistler to clarify their priorities.

FCM board member Garth Frizzell says the two groups will continue to push for federal funding for infrastructure.

“This has been the story for five years and, particularly in the last two years, we’ve seen real successes with the federal government partnering with municipalities to provide funding for roads, bridges, water systems – critical infrastructure.”

Municipalities across the country are struggling to maintain and upgrade local infrastructure, Frizzell says, but after two years of unprecedented dialogue between the FCM and the federal government, he’s hopeful the budget will reflect community needs.

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“Affordable housing has really sprung to the forefront. We can see that all over Canada – that the need is there for housing. And finally improvements – to transit systems. All of these are important to communities all across Canada.”

The needs of northern communities do sometimes differ from their southern counterparts. Frizzell says transportation, particularly expansions to air and marine transit systems, and housing are particularly in demand in the north.

With his dual roles as both FCM board member and Prince George City Councillor, Frizzell says he keeps an eye on priorities that affect both rural and urban communities.

“The big city side gets pushed really hard for big city priorities and then there’s the rural side that gets pushed very hard as well. Prince George is in an interesting spot because we’re arguable both rural and urban at the same time.”

The FCM has specific priorities for rural communities, including “applying a rural lens to infrastructure investments so that rural communities can access funding to meet their unique needs.”

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