By: Korie Marshall

The Gas Tax Agreement between Canada, BC and the Union of BC Municipalities was signed on May 22. The agreement, which provides the administrative framework for delivering the Gas Tax funds to local governments, means Valemount will get over $90,000 and McBride over $73,000 this year for a larger variety of infrastructure projects.

The federal Gas Tax Fund is intended to give municipalities all over Canada stable funding for local infrastructure while creating jobs. Part of the federal New Building Canada Plan, it has been doubled from $1 billion to $2 billion annually, with a two per cent increase per year (applied in increments), and it is paid to provincial governments twice a year.

“This announcement is an important day for communities across BC, especially in the north”, said Bob Zimmer, MP for Prince George-Peace River and Chair of the Conservative BC Caucus, in a release. “We have given more freedom to rapidly growing municipalities in northeastern BC to use the Gas Tax Fund to improve their communities.”

Zimmer says the Caucus was key in crafting the new agreement, and they listened to municipalities to make the criteria more streamlined.

“The funding will provide local governments with the flexibility to choose and plan infrastructure projects based on their specific priorities,” said Cathy McLeod, MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, in a separate release.

The funding had been available for public transit, wastewater infrastructure, drinking water, solid waste management, community energy systems, local roads and bridges and capacity building projects. Starting this year (April 1, 2014), along with the new indexing, the funding can also be used towards more projects, like highways, local and regional airports, short-line rail, short-sea shipping, disaster mitigation, broadband and connectivity, brownfield (land previously used for industrial or commercial purposes) redevelopment, culture, tourism, sport and recreation.

Valemount will get $90,979.33 for both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 years; then $95,582.32 for the next two years and $100,194.66 in 2018-19.

McBride will get $73,543.03, then $77,220.19 and $81,017.96 over the same periods.