Port Moody will use its share of money for the province’s new Growing Communities Fund to catch up with some infrastructure projects that slid down the priority list as it coped with budget constraints.
Mayor Meghan Lahti said the $6.7 million the city will receive from the fund that was announced by Premier David Eby last Friday (March 3) will help it get back on track with a backlog on projects like maintenance and improvements to aging facilities, trails, roads, equipment, bridges and other infrastructure.
But it won’t help reduce the 11.33 per cent property tax increase residents could be facing this year.
“These are one-time funds that are better suited to funding projects that are also one time in nature,” Lahti told the Tri-City News. “If the funds were used to finance ongoing operational costs normally covered by taxation, then this would simply push those costs to future budgets.”
Lahti said while the city appreciates the additional funding, in doesn’t address the increases in ongoing local governments in British Columbia are facing as more services that were previously covered by senior levels of government are downloaded to municipalities, causing them to make tough choices between addressing those demands or capital costs like infrastructure.
“This level of funding is needed annually if cities are ever going to make up for the infrastructure deficit facing many local governments,” she said.
Of the $1 billion Eby announced will go to local governments across the province based on a funding formula that reflects communities’ population sizes and growth targets, Coquitlam will get $18.635 million, and Port Coquitlam receives $9.462 million while Anmore and Belcarra realize smaller amounts at $1.73 million and $759,000 respectively.
The president of the Union of BC Municipalities Jen Ford said in a news release the money “will allow communities to accelerate the replacement of aging systems and expansion to current services to better meet the demands of growing populations.”