Gas tax fund option for funding

For smaller municipalities, the cost of building and maintaining recreational facilities can be a challenge

My appreciation for recreation facilities was increased last week when I listened to the inductees into the Lake Cowichan Sports Hall of Fame talk about how important the local rink was in their lives.

For smaller municipalities, the cost of building and maintaining recreational facilities can be a challenge. Safety repairs and construction, like maintaining bridges and roads, always takes first priority, as it should.

A municipality has to service any new development that it approves and that can eat away at available infrastructure dollars.

Add in emergency repairs, rising costs and changes to building codes that call for retrofits and it isn’t hard to see why many municipalities often have to delay infrastructure plans for years.

That’s why New Democrats brought forward a motion in the House of Commons this session that proposed increasing the transfer of gas tax money by one cent.

The Gas Tax Fund was created in 2005 and five out of every 10 cents of federal tax on gas goes into the fund. The NDP proposed increasing that to six cents which would result in $500 million per year in additional revenue for infrastructure.

Our motion also called for a legislative framework, with clear targets, to provide sustainable, predictable and long-term infrastructure funding agreements with provinces, municipalities and First Nations communities.

The construction and maintenance of public infrastructure plays a vital role in the creation and protection of jobs in every community.

The federal government collects half of all taxes paid by Canadians but it is the municipalities and provinces that provide the majority of services and infrastructure. We need a more effective way of using tax dollars to provide the funding those bodies need.

The Gas Tax Fund is one option but New Democrats are interested in hearing about alternative funding mechanisms to ensure municipalities, large and small, have the long-term capacity to build and maintain public infrastructure.

Our motion failed in the House of Commons but New Democrats continue to explore options to support public infrastructure spending at the levels necessary to advance economic opportunities for residents, improve their safety, and better their quality of life.

And I hope to hear more young athletes talk about their local rink and how it made a difference in their life.