Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In the News – Budget 2009

I just wanted to point out a few interesting news items from the past day. Yesterday in the Surrey leader, there was an editorial article titled "Keep the momentum".

Residents from Surrey and Delta responded, and the refrain is a familiar
one in the Lower Mainland: Improve transportation options, especially south of
the Fraser…

…A common call was for the creation of interurban light rail. “It is much
more affordable than other transit projects.”

We asked, and the people have spoken. Will the politicians deliver?

Last week really highlights the lack of transportation options for many people in the South Fraser. As an example, over 30% of the traffic on the Port Mann is between the Tri-Cities area and Surrey. Currently if you wanted to get from Guildford to Coquitlam, you would have to take a bus, two SkyTrains, and another bus…

Anyway, this leads to the second bit of news. The federal government released its budget. According to the CBC, the big city mayors had a mixed reaction to it. A look the government's website reveals:

-$1 billion over five years for a Green Infrastructure Fund.

-Increasing funding to VIA Rail by $407 million for the Montréal–Ottawa–Toronto corridor.

-Identenfied as a project that can be "expedited over the next two construction seasons." (money from the old Building Canada Fund.) is the Evergreen Line. That is good news!

-$4-billion Infrastructure Stimulus Fund that will provide funding to provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure rehabilitation projects. Funding will be available for two years for projects that will begin construction during the 2009 and 2010 construction seasons.

-The federal government will also create a P3 coporoation, much like Partnership BC.

So all in all, it doesn’t look like there is anything too new in the 2009 budget for public transit or for buidling a sustainable Canada. And while $1 billion is a great start for a Green Infrastructure Fund, when you put Ontario and Quebec into the picture and take into account that this is over 5 years, its not very much. At least the Evergreen Line looks like it might be funding (that is if the budget passes.) Of course, if it was light rail they would have the funding already…

PS: Canada’s solution to our green house gas causing emission problem is to dump money into carbon capture and nuclear energy…

Since 2006, the Government has provided $375 million to support the development of carbon capture and storage technologies, including $250 million in Budget 2008 for a full-scale commercial demonstration of carbon capture and storage in the coal-fired electricity sector in Saskatchewan, research on the potential for carbon storage in Nova Scotia, and economic and technological issues. An additional $125 million is available for carbon capture and storage projects under the ecoENERGY Technology Initiative of Natural Resources Canada.

To further support Canada's leadership in clean energy, Budget 2009 provides $1 billion over five years to support clean energy technologies. This includes $150 million over five years for research, and $850 million over five years for the development and demonstration of promising technologies, including large-scale carbon capture and storage projects. This support is expected to generate a total investment in clean technologies of at least $2.5 billion over the next five years.

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