Premier says province doing its best to tackle infrastructure deficit
Premier Dwight Ball says the province has taken an aggressive agenda to address the tremendous infrastructure deficit it faces.
He made the comment last week shortly after announcing more than $1.8 million in a series of municipal infrastructure projects for the Baie Verte-Green Bay area while in Springdale. He also made stops in Botwood — where he announced $38.8 million for projects supporting improvements in municipal infrastructure — and Badger — where he revealed details of the about $230,000 in cost-shared funding between the province and the Town of Badger for a water and wastewater infrastructure project.
The $38.8 million includes 77 projects, with money coming from the Small Communities Fund and the Municipal Capital Works program. The projects include roadwork, water and sewer upgrades, recreation facilities, and more.
Ball said the infrastructure deficit was apparent during the election campaign as well as even through working with towns prior to that. Safe drinking water was the top priority among those needs, he said. Leveraging federal and municipal money to cost-share such programs is of vital importance, according to the premier.
The demand for such investments within towns across the province is huge, he said. Applications for funding are continuous, and placed on a priority basis when they are received.
“The other thing that is important is we have laid out a multi-year infrastructure program of nearly $3 billion, much of which will go into safe drinking water, the community infrastructure, sewer projects, and in some cases roads as well,” he said.
These projects also create jobs for people in the province, according to Ball.
While several projects in the communities of Springdale, Shoe Cove, South Brook, Miles Cove, and La Scie were announced last week, the need throughout the Green Bay and Baie Verte Peninsula is massive.
Baie Verte Mayor Clar Brown has been constantly lobbying for increased funding to assist with deteriorating infrastructure throughout the town and region.
“When we are in a position to be able to do more, we would like to do that as well,” Ball said. “But, already it is a very aggressive approach to the infrastructure deficit.
“…It is 10,000 kilometres of road in this province, and much of that needs repairs or replacement in some cases as well as 1,300 bridges and culverts. All of that is part of the long-term infrastructure plan in this province.”
Karen Oldford, president of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL), was pleased with the province’s announcement of funding for municipal infrastructure. She also commended the municipalities’ contribution.
“Municipalities in this province have invested on average 30 per cent of the total cost of their capital works projects and in some cases up to 55 per cent for road repairs and paving,” Oldford stated in a press release. “Working together with the federal and provincial governments we’ve been able to leverage a significant portion of the federal infrastructure funding that our sector so desperately needs.”
The president says it is critical all three orders of government continue this investment if communities are to face the challenges ahead. Clean and safe drinking water; acceptable waste water treatment; and safe, effective transportation networks are essential for the future of hometowns, she said.