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Resort not anticipating federal stimulus money handout

FCM delegates voice frustration at slow flow of stimulus dollars



Whistler's Mayor is not holding his breath when it comes to getting money from the federal government's stimulus package.

"We did apply but we don't hope to get any," said Ken Melamed.

"The frustration is real at the municipal level."

Melamed is not alone in his dissatisfaction in the way money is passed through the levels of government and it became evident at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference held here last weekend.

"My philosophy is that this is endemic of the flaw in the way governments in Canada relate, this almost patronizing, patriarchal relationship," said Melamed.

"Constitutionally the government went to a de-centralized Canada but they haven't been willing to part with the control of the money and I don't know how many more years we have to go along with the failed examples of how this system works, and this is another one."

Under the current system the federal government gets 52 per cent of tax dollars, the provinces get 40 per cent and the municipalities get 8 per cent.

And, said Melamed, an FCM found that of all the billions of federal dollars available about 90 per cent of it goes east of B.C.

But, added Melamed, "I have to acknowledge that Whistler has done well for itself in the years leading up to the Games...and we have got some money."

The FCM has calculated that there is about a $160 billion infrastructure gap across the country.

In January, Ottawa announced a $40 billion fiscal stimulus package, $12 billion of which is for new infrastructure spending. Of that $4 billion is to be allocated by March 2011.

At the closing of the conference John Baird, federal minister of transportation, infrastructure and communities said that the federal government would pay a full-one-third of infrastructure project costs incurred before April 1, 2011

Whistler has applied for some of the stimulus money for the Alta Lake Sewer Project, a sports field at Cheakamus Crossing, and the Re-Build-It Centre.

Though the federal government has promised access to the $12 billion in stimulus funding, cities and towns have not seen one penny of it despite getting federal and provincial approval for some of their spending plans for infrastructure.

Vancouver has put in for $600 million, one-third of which is targeted for social housing.

"We are seeing it held up between the federal and provincial governments," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, speaking after the mayors of 22 of Canada's largest cities met to discuss this and other issues in advance of the FCM.

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