Flow of funds worries Miller

Mayor David Miller is expressing deep concerns it will take two years for Can­adian cities like Toronto to see the infrastructure money announced in Fin­ance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget.

Mayor David Miller is expressing deep concerns it will take two years for Can­adian cities like Toronto to see the infrastructure money announced in Fin­ance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget.

Miller told reporters he’s disappointed money for projects will flow through Ottawa’s Building Canada Fund, a fund he said is “full of red tape.”

He said that up to now the fund has delivered a lengthy approvals process where provincial and federal governments give the go-ahead for projects, and municipalities must provide matching funds.

Miller and other Canadian mayors say they’ve already identified their priorities and had urged Ottawa to set aside money im­mediately for local projects based on the gas-tax formula, which is loosely based on population — with top-ups for smaller cities.

Miller argued that based on the way Building Canada has worked thus far, it will take two years to see money for local projects.

He gave the example of the TTC’s Spadina subway extension from Downs­view station into York Region, which has been dealt with through Building Canada.

The province, city of Toronto and York Region reached agreement in March 2006 on funding the extension, and Ottawa promised money a few months later, Miller said. Yet the final agreement with the federal government wasn’t signed until September 2008.

“They (Ottawa) are proposing in this budget to put more money into that kind of fund. That means the money will not hit the ground in any practical way until two years from now. If you really want to build infrastructure now and put people back to work, that’s not the right way to do it,” Miller told reporters.

 
 
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