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Pearce Calls for a Unified Front in Tackling Canada's Infrastructure Gap

FCM President Mayor Scott Pearce in Brandon, Manitoba (Photo FCM)

As Canada experiences a population boom, municipalities find themselves at a breaking point, grappling with the colossal responsibility of maintaining over 60 percent of the nation's infrastructure. From roads to water and sewage systems, municipalities bear the weight of these critical elements of Canadian life.

However, as the population continues to surge, municipalities are left grappling with the monumental task of fixing and expanding these infrastructures. In the face of this growing challenge, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has issued an urgent call to the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, urging them to convene and collaborate on a comprehensive solution to address the expanding infrastructure gap.

The FCM's plea for collaborative action is not a new development. The organization has persistently called on the federal government to bring together representatives from provincial and territorial governments for a meeting dedicated to addressing the ongoing infrastructure deficit. The aim is to formulate a cross-jurisdictional solution that benefits municipalities of all sizes, from the smallest communities to the largest urban centers.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview, FCM President Scott Pearce outlined the scale of the challenge ahead. Pearce stated that Canada would require an additional 5.8 million new homes by 2030-2035, translating to an astronomical $600 billion in infrastructure investments. Pearce emphasized that municipalities are simply unable to shoulder this staggering financial burden alone.

"I think we have to be coherent, and I think we have to just keep hammering that nail that without the infrastructure money, the housing won't be able to get done," Pearce asserted.

Pearce revealed that the average cost for new infrastructure spending to support the construction of a single house in Canada amounts to approximately $107,000.

The FCM President emphasized that the current trajectory of insufficient investment is unsustainable. When questioned about the source of funding, Pearce acknowledged the reality of a single taxpayer but stressed that the time has come for federal, provincial, and territorial governments to make this issue a top priority.

"We don't look to blame the other two orders of government, and in municipal life, we are problem solvers. We know there's a problem, we see the problem. I think Canadians see the problem."

"So we're at the table waiting for the other two orders of government to join us and work as a Canadian team for the benefit of all Canadians," Pearce stated.

The urgency of the matter was highlighted at a recent first ministers meeting in Halifax. Premiers Doug Ford (Ontario), Danielle Smith (Alberta), Dennis King (PEI), Scott Moe (Saskatchewan), and Tim Houston (Nova Scotia) collectively called on the government to shift its focus from direct municipal engagements to strictly working with the premiers and provincial and territorial governments to address the housing crisis.

When asked whether municipalities feel like children caught in the crossfire of two arguing parents, Pearce responded bluntly, "In the Municipal Life, we're acting like the adults because we're not getting into these jurisdictional matches."

"Our goal is to work with all levels of governments," Pearce added. "If they want to argue amongst themselves, I just don't think it's a good look."

Pearce's words reflect the frustration and determination felt by municipalities across the country. The need for a unified front to address the infrastructure deficit is pressing, and the FCM is adamant about playing a constructive role in this process.

If the federal, provincial, and territorial governments do not come to the table to address the ongoing infrastructure funding deficit faced by municipalities, Pearce warns of dire consequences for the Canadian economy.

"We need some sort of funding that grows with the Canadian economy that will help municipalities reach the objectives of 5.8 million new homes in the next 20 years. Without that, I think it'd be basically a stalemate. We'll be stagnant when it comes to housing. Municipalities just can't afford that cost," Pearce emphasized.

Our full interview with FCM President Scott Pearce, offering a deep dive into the challenges and solutions surrounding Canada's infrastructure gap, will be broadcast in full on December 4th on "Municipal Affairs with Chris Brown."


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