Local residents will benefit from the federal government's billion-dollar long-term infrastructure fund, according to Conservative MP James Moore, who spoke in Burnaby about the budget Friday.
"I think where Burnaby residents will benefit, as will Tri-Cities residents, is the infrastructure fund," said Moore, MP for Port Moody-Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam. "Municipal politicians across the Lower Mainland have asked for steady long-term funding for infrastructure. The previous plan was for five years, then we had two years of stimulus spending, now this is 10 years. Ten years allows municipalities to budget out for the long-term, work with TransLink, work with the province."
Moore said the plan provides a "good chunk of time" for municipalities to come up with priority projects that require long-term funding.
"I think this is something that Derek Corrigan and other mayors, (Vancouver's) Gregor Robertson, (Coquitlam's) Richard Stewart, have all said this is something that's been needed. This is something the Federation of Canadian Municipalities asked for, by the way," he said.
The federal budget, introduced on Thursday, outlines the government's plan to spend $53 billion on infrastructure over 10 years - $43 billion of which is new funding. The investments will focus on highways and transit and favour public-private partnerships. Moore's comments were made at a Burnaby Board of Trade breakfast event on Friday, following a budget speech he delivered to the crowd.
Moore told the audience that the Conservatives were given a mandate to focus on the economy.
"That's what we've done, and the economy is growing," he said. "We're controlling government spending going forward, despite increased demands by the NDP and Liberals in Parliament every day to constantly increase spending on virtually everything under the sun."
Moore said the federal government would arrive at a balanced budget without raising taxes or cutting health care transfers to provinces. The federal deficit stands at $25.9 billion, but Moore presented figures suggesting the government will lower that figure and have a surplus by 2015/16.
Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart referred to the infrastructure fund as "fantasy money."
"These are very long-term promises," Stewart said. "It's fine to make these kinds of fantasy announcements, but really what we're looking at is what's going to happen this year?"
Stewart is expecting more cuts, but he won't know where exactly until the federal Conservatives bring in their budget implementation act.
"(This budget is) another austerity budget, the third one in row. We're not getting any program announcements or substantive boost of any kind," he said.
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