Edmonton Journal

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.

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