YORKTON - Yorkton Councillor Randy Goulden recently returned from a meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities where many of the discussions focused on federal programs and the upcoming federal budget.
From a municipal perspective there is always a place to invest dollars, noted Goulden.
As an example, “when people are coming into communities for jobs,” there is also a need for housing, and the cost associated with serving those homes.
At present the federal government is looking to renew several programs, and therein lies an opportunity to lobby for changes and improvements from an FCM perspective, said Goulden.
“When they’re (the federal government) looking to design the next programs, what should be in them?” she asked.
The reality is there are a lot of places municipalities could use additional dollars, but Goulden also noted they know they are not the only ones asking for federal dollars.
“The needs are long,” she said, then adding there are of course finite dollars at the federal level too.
That said FCM would like to see some changes made.
For example, the former Community Builds Fund, now Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, has municipalities applying for dollars for what are deemed ‘shovel-ready’ projects.
Goulden said there are costs to having a project ready to move forward, and if ICIP dollars aren’t approved it can be money that doesn’t accomplish anything for the municipality.
As a result, FCM is calling for the ICIP dollars to be “allocated to all municipalities” based on population, said Goulden, adding that is so doing it becomes an ongoing source of dollars municipalities can plan and budget around.
Dollars for municipal transportation needs a tweak too, said Goulden.
At present federal dollars for airports is based on passenger numbers, which means there are no dollars for the Yorkton Airport.
“But it’s a regional airport that provides services for this region even without scheduled passenger service,” said Goulden.
Policing costs were also high on the list when it came to discussing federal dollars.
“There’s always discussion around policing, not just the cost but moving forward what does policing look like in the future?” asked Goulden.
Goulden said they know a new deal has to be made in 10-years, and while that sounds like a long time, it’s not if you were to dramatically change the policing model.
“What is the future of policing?” she reiterated.
More immediate remains the question of the federal government assuming the back pay costs associated with the most recent contract it signed with the RCMP, a deal which cost Yorkton about $1.6 million.
The back pay is something FCM is lobbying for the federal government to retroactively cover because municipalities are facing other costs with policing like body worn cameras and new sidearms.
While saying there is recognition police need the proper equipment to do their jobs, Goulden asked, “how do we continue to do this (pay the growing costs)?”