Tuesday’s Capital Budget shuts the door on critical infrastructure funding for many municipalities, and slashes funding for the designated highways that serve as arteries for commerce and commuters in New Brunswick’s communities.
“Municipalities understand the need for tough budget choices, and we know the province is tightening its belt,” said UMNB President Wayne Sturgeon. “But what’s being squeezed out are projects that affect the health and safety of our citizens, and the tourism and businesses our province’s economy needs to get back on track.”
The Capital Budget allocates just $5M to the Canada-New Brunswick Integrated Bilateral Agreement. This program provides federal cost-sharing of up to 60% for municipal projects. That makes major projects affordable for small communities like Alma, where the drinking water system has been overwhelmed by strong tourism and an 11-month boil water advisory was recently in effect.
However, the budget provides just enough for the “shovel-ready” projects given early approval by the previous government—but little else. That’s bad news for municipalities that weren’t picked or couldn’t afford “shovel ready” projects, but that still have critical infrastructure needs, including for drinking water, sewage treatment and storm water management.
“Boil water orders aren’t just an urgent health issue – they also affect tourism and local businesses,” says Sturgeon. “Municipalities won’t be able to afford important infrastructure that private industry depends on and that affects quality of life for our residents.”
The Capital Budget also cuts funding for designated highways running through municipalities to $10M, down from $25M. These roads fall under provincial responsibility, but run through municipalities, and are main arteries for commuters, tourists, commerce, and industry. Worse, as New Brunswick’s Auditor General has previously noted, the cost for repairs will increase substantially if delayed too long, meaning higher costs for both municipalities and the province.
“Kicking this can down the road hurts road safety and our local economy today, and will just end up costing us more tomorrow,” says Sturgeon.
“Municipalities understand tough budget choices. We just want to make sure our resident’s health and the local economy aren’t caught in the squeeze,” says Sturgeon. “We’re ready and eager to consult with our provincial government about priorities.”
The Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick is the bilingual association of 60 member municipalities, including cities, towns, villages, and rural communities. UMNB works to build strong, sustainable municipalities and ensure local priorities are heard.
For more information, please contact:
Margot Cragg, UMNB Executive Director, (506) 476-5641,firstname.lastname@example.org