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Whistler benefits from New Deal agreement with feds

RMOW expected to see $840,000 over next five years

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Whistler will see a greater share of federal gas taxes in the future as part of Prime Minister Paul Martin’s 2002 New Deal agreement – a plan to revitalize urban areas across Canada by helping to fund infrastructure improvements, transit, and other development initiatives.

Last week Martin signed an agreement-in-principle with Premier Gordon Campbell and Aaron Dinwoodie, the President of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, that would see a 1.5 cents per litre of gas taxes returned to municipalities over the next five years.

"When I first launched the concept of the New Deal in 2002, it was my hope that all orders of government work in partnership to build sustainable communities, large and small, across the country," Martin said in a release. "The New Deal was a centrepiece of the budget tabled just seven weeks ago, when we told provinces, territories and municipalities how much gas tax money they would see. Today I stand here delivering that promise to B.C.’s communities."

The 2005 budget called for $9 billion of gas taxes to be funnelled to municipalities over five years.

B.C. municipalities will see about $635.6 million over five years. For Whistler, that means $840,808 in total funding, or close to $170,000 on average per year.

"An extremely important component of this deal was to ensure that communities in B.C., such as Whistler, know exactly what this deal means to them in terms of real dollars," said David Emerson, Minister of Industry.

The RMOW welcomed the announcement, but does not yet have a plan for the money. The goal of the agreement is to support environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure, which includes transit, bike paths, commuter facilities and similar projects.

The New Deal is one part of the federal government’s overtures to municipal governments across the country.

Last year the federal government approved $7 billion in Goods and Services Tax rebates to Canadian municipalities over the next 10 years.

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