Council has adopted a motion to not allow fire departments or not-for-profit organizations to have access to the Canada Community Building Fund.
In a vote of 10 to 2, it was passed that the money from the fund, formerly known as the gas tax, will be used for municipal infrastructure projects only. The federal government announced in July 2021 that the construction, material, and enhancement of or renewal of fire halls and fire station infrastructure would be eligible for funding under the grant program. The province approved the amendment to the agreement in March 2022.
Council recently received requests for funding from Pictou Landing Fire Department and Abercrombie Fire Departments to have access to the fund for roof repairs.
Warden Robert Parker said the MOPC uses this money to fund larger projects such as water and sewer installations, sidewalks, and the internet project. Directing this money to fire departments or non-profit groups which can fundraise and apply for grants from other sources could jeopardize some of these municipal projects because it would decrease the amount of funding available for them.
There are also strict guidelines that must be followed using money from the Canada Community Building Fund including ensuring the project falls into the proper category, following the standard of reporting and documentation as well as possibly facing an audit when the project is complete.
“I think to open it to all kinds of other things will diminish our ability to fund major projects in Pictou County, “said Warden Parker. “It’s not more money, it’s just the ability to do that (with this money). “
District 2 Coun. Deborah Wadden said she sees this as a piece of enabling legislation that will allow smaller projects a chance to be considered, especially if council categorized its projects differently.
“If we want to help these folks, we will have the ability to do that,” she said.
District 8 Coun. Larry Turner said he supported the idea of categorizing projects, but he also believed all projects should be based on their merit.
“I think council is wise enough and not too political to make proper judgements based on merit,” he said. “Bring these projects to council and council can use its judgement to make a decision on them.”
District 10 Coun. Randy Palmer said opening the fund to fire departments and non-profit groups is the federal government once again downloading on municipalities.
“This program was here to help municipalities build our infrastructure and now it’s adding not-for-profits with council approval. They are putting the blame on us if we don’t do it.”