Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson says the federal government’s decision to send the gas tax money in one lump sum payment this year as opposed to two will help a bit, but he says much more needs to be done to make a real impact on municipalities.
Simpson says for communities without reserves to borrow from it will make a bigger difference, but he says Quesnel is not in that position…
“Every penny helps because we’re not collecting our taxes now until the end of September, we still have all of our operating costs. But the provincial government changed to allow us to borrow against our own reserves certainly helps with our cash position, so this will just prevent us from borrowing a little bit more money than we would otherwise need to.”
Simpson says Ottawa doubled up on the gas tax payments last year, and he says that would be a bigger shot in the arm for municipalities.
He says Quesnel may be able to use it to offset the potential loss of the casino money this year.
Simpson applauds Ottawa for announcing that there would be more flexibility around how they use those dollars, meaning they won’t get second guessed.
Besides doubling up on the gas tax funds, Simpson says the federal government could also help by changing how they do their big infrastructure programs…
“Those programs are black box. We don’t understand how decisions are made, the decisions take far too long. We’re usually given, if we’re lucky three months to get an application together, and they take anywhere from 12 months to two years, and in one case it was almost three years, before a decision was made. Well in large infrastructure projects, the pricing of those projects will escalate every year, so it’s just a ridiculous process.”
Simpson says they need to be much more flexible, and much more rapid in their deployment of infrastructure dollars, so that they can actually take some of these big projects on.