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February 25, 2016

The Water Haller : Time For Infrastructure

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After years of what seemed like crying in the wilderness, the stars seem to be aligning for critical infrastructure renewal in our water/wastewater/stormwater industry. The Liberal Party certainly caught my ear during the election when they committed to reinvestment in infrastructure, even if it meant running a deficit of $10 billion. Then they won that election with the public’s support and recommitted to that promise. This week (Feb 22nd), they again confirmed that they are still solid on this commitment to investing in infrastructure to improve our economy – even if runs a deficit of $18 billion. This is very inspiring and a clear signal for all of us to get our projects not just shovel-ready, but as Infrastructure Minister Sohi demands, we need to show that our projects are "shovel-worthy". 
The CWWA is working all of its federal level relationships to promote the importance of water/wastewater/stormwater projects to the nation’s health and economy. We must thank our good friend and Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia who has been a strong advocate for all things water and is our conduit to the Liberal Caucus and all cabinet ministers. We will be submitting our own formal letter to the federal government and will call upon all of our partners to provide similar letters. These letters, however, need to also get to the provincial-level and municipal-level decision-makers to have them recognize the need for investment in water infrastructure.
We are working closely with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and we are very pleased with the FCM’s support for water/wastewater/stormwater projects. FCM’s Budget submission to the government suggests, "Budget 2016 is a potential turning point when we shift from bold vision to real action." The FCM calls for "smart investments in our cities and communities."   
The previous Building Canada Fund set no priorities from the federal level, but this new Infrastructure Plan has identified clear priorities.First Nations will receive targeted funding, while the Infrastructure Fund is divided into three categories: transit, affordable housing and green infrastructure. We are pleased that the funds are targeted to critical infrastructure that addresses the health and economy of communities. Our sector falls under the Green Infrastructure Fund.  
Again, we are very pleased with the leadership we are seeing from the FCM. Their administration of the Green Municipal Fund has already supported significant investment into water and wastewater projects. In FCM’s Budget 2016 Proposal, they directly call for funding to support the implementation of the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (WSER). They also identify water projects as key priorities as they stress the importance of three areas of green infrastructure funding: Community Resilience, Core Infrastructure and Environmental Protection. For Community Resilience, they note stormwater adaptation to address climate change. Under Core Infrastructure, they list drinking water systems, wastewater systems and stormwater management as well as I.T. systems for water and energy systems. For Environmental Protection, they note water conservation including grey water systems, rainwater collection and fixture replacement.
Meanwhile, get your own projects ready and I’ll be calling on you to support our advocacy efforts soon.
Robert Haller, Executive Director


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