Only two Alberta projects get cash from federal fund
Two municipalities in the province of Alberta received a mere $5.66 million from a controversial $2-billion fund that was announced as a national fund to support infrastructure projects across the country.
The Municipal Infrastructure Loan Program (MILP) was administered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) on behalf of the federal government. The initiative was a key part of the federal government’s Canada Economic Action Plan, which was announced in 2009.
The $2-billion fund was to provide low-interest loans to help municipalities pay for infrastructure improvements. The program raised eyebrows in March when it was revealed that well over half the fund went to municipalities in Quebec. It drew attention again last week when it was revealed that some of the municipalities that were granted money don’t appear to have met the criteria needed for them to have received money.
Further analysis of how the money was disbursed shows a stark difference between Ontario, Quebec and the rest of the country. While Quebec took the lion’s share of the money — $1.208 billion, with a vast majority of that going to Montreal and Quebec City — Ontario municipalities received a total of $519.45 million. The two provinces accounted for 86.37 per cent of all the spending under the MILP initiative, leaving very little for infrastructure improvement in other parts of the country.
Alberta attracted a total of $5.66 million, and that money went to two projects: one was in Strathmore, which was granted a $4.16-million loan for municipal drinking water treatment, and the other in Rimbey, which collected $1.5 million under the program for a “distribution system.” Neither Calgary nor Edmonton collected any of the money from the fund.
In fact, while a handful of municipalities in British Columbia were successful in collecting a total of $30.2 million from the MILP, Canada’s third-most populous city, Vancouver, also did not receive any money from the fund.
Municipalities in Saskatchewan collected a total of $128.23 million from the MILP for various infrastructure projects. Municipalities in Manitoba were issued $36.16 million from the fund. Cities in Newfoundland and Labrador collected $30.13 million, while cities in Prince Edward Island attracted $25.11 million from the federal fund.
The remaining two provinces, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, collected $9.3 million and $2.34 million respectively.
According to CMHC, the initiative was aimed at helping to spark the development of housing-related infrastructure in towns and cities across the country by focusing on providing funds for projects that were “shovel-ready”. The federal government agency said the money was allotted to municipalities on a “first-come first-served” basis until all of the money in the $2-billion fund was spent.
Opposition MPs have questioned the accountability behind the fund, asking how it is that two-thirds of the municipalities in the country didn’t get any money from the fund.