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FCM applauds first federal fund dedicated to rural transit solutions

FCM applauds first federal fund dedicated to rural transit solutions

Posted in: News Item

Date Posted: 2021-03-29

Organization Name: Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Maryam Monsef, Minister for Rural Economic Development, joined together March 29 to announce $250 million over five years to help address the transit needs of Canadians living in rural, remote, and small communities.

During the announcement, the federal government committed to working with these communities to develop rural transit solutions, and to providing the funding to make those solutions a reality.

Following the funding announcement dedicated to rural transit solutions, Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) President Garth Frizzell, and FCM Rural Forum Chair Ray Orb weighed in on the federal government’s commitment.

“Rural municipalities across the country are welcoming this funding announcement. This first-ever dedicated fund for rural transit will support innovative solutions to improve mobility in smaller communities, a major priority for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities,” Frizzell said. “Investing in rural transit supports growth, promotes equality, builds communities and helps the environment. This will be an important tool as rural communities gear up to help drive Canada’s post-COVID recovery.”

Orb agreed, adding that this transit fund gives rural municipalities an important tool to strengthen their communities.

“This is the first-ever dedicated federal fund for rural transit, and it is a good first step in recognizing the unique needs and capacities of rural communities,” Orb said. “This tool will help us drive mobility solutions that make sense locally, and that will mean economic growth and quality-of-life improvements for rural Canadians.”

From on-demand services, to publicly-owned, electric vehicle ride shares, and volunteer community car-pooling, Canadians outside urban centres have been finding innovative ways to get to the jobs and the goods and services they require. Developed with the goal of creating equity amongst communities across the country, this fund will be the first federal fund dedicated to rural transit.

“Canadians need public transit to help them get to and from work and school, to medical appointments and shopping, and to soccer and hockey practices. The first ever Rural Transit Fund recognizes that Canadians living in rural and remote areas and in small communities have unique transportation challenges that require flexible, tailored solutions,” McKenna said. “We’ll work with communities to find the best transit solutions and provide the support to make them a reality, creating local jobs and growth, helping to tackle climate change, and building more inclusive communities.”

This funding builds on progress made under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, which has supported transit projects in smaller communities, from a bus in Selkirk, Manitoba, to a Handi-Van in Fort Frances, Ontario, which helps seniors get around town with accessible options.

In a media release, the Government of Canada said it has heard loud and clear from rural, remote, and small communities that more funding is needed to support unique transportation solutions. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so a flexible, dedicated Rural Transit Fund will help fund creative projects that address the unique needs of communities.

“The pandemic has reminded us how vital our connections are. Our internet connections, our roads, bridges, waterways and community centres keep us connected and the government has invested $10.6 billion in funding for 5,349 projects since 2015 in small communities across Canada to strengthen them all,” Monsef said. “Strengthening and building rural transportation networks is the government’s next step in creating jobs and improving health and safety of Canadians. To the women, seniors, parents, leaders and youth who asked for rural connections: the government has heard you. We are moving forward.”

The new $250 million fund, part of the nearly $15 billion public transit investment announced last February by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will help rural, remote, and small towns build vibrant communities where people want to live, work and play.

Funding to improve and expand public transit is a key part of Canada’s strengthened Climate Plan. It creates jobs, supports economic growth, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.