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Money for transportation, water works and buildings, as Ontario’s government turns a shade of green

The Ontario government has announced it will spend billions on infrastructure over the next year. Janet Ecker, the...


The Ontario government has announced it will spend billions on infrastructure over the next year. Janet Ecker, the province’s Finance Minister, delivered the governments 2002 Budget speech in the legislature yesterday, and promised an investment of $2.7 billion, including federal flow through funds, in public works, all of which will involve engineering. Consulting engineers involved in transportation, buildings and the environmental sector will likely be sitting up and taking notice of the announcements.
Among the transportation areas slated to receive funding are the following. Highways are to receive more than $1 billion over the next year.
Public transit initiatives will receive $193 million (presumably this is the funding already announced). The money will go to inter-regional transit in the Golden Horseshoe as well as municipal transit systems.
There will be $104 million additional support to municipal road infrastucture in small and rural towns, and money for repairs to ferries and airports.
In the building sector, investment in hospitals and health care facilities is being boosted by almost 70% to a total of $342 million.
Funding for universities and colleges won’t be anything like the $1 billion invested in 1999-2000 (witness the host of new engineering and computer faculties under construction). However, there will be $69 million spent on post-secondary education. Also $143 million was promised for court and jail infrastructure.
In the environmental areas of water and wastewater, Ontario appears to be taking the lessons of Walkerton to heart. The budget promised to accept all the recommendations of Justice Dennis O’Connor’s Inquiry into the tragedy. These called for infrastructure and source protection measures to the tune of $280 million initially, and $50 million ongoing annually. This year’s budget will devote $245 million to clean water. The money will be for upgrades to water treatment plants, but also for conducting groundwater studies to support the development of source water protection plans.
On the clean air front, the Finance Minister announced the government will give tax breaks to encourage green technologies and renewable fuels. It will exempt biodiesel fuels from the 14.3 cents per litre fuel tax. It will also extend sales tax rebates for hybrid-electric vehicles to SUVs and light trucks that use the technology.


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