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Rural Communities and Municipal Associations in Ottawa

Municipal Intelligence Report

Sign up to receive regular Municipal Intelligence Reports detailing the latest Municipal happenings on Parliament Hill which could affect your next project. Below, please find a sample report from 2017.

 

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Municipal Intelligence Report Sample


January, 2017


Municipal Intelligence Report


2017 will be a big year for Municipalities in Canada. We will see a Budget with a long-term infrastructure plan (11 years), a brand new National Housing Strategy, and new Federal funds that Municipalities can access. It is imperative that Municipalities prepare for these new strategic investments, which will be historic.


Budget 2017

The House of Commons returns January 30th, 2017 and many sources are expecting an early Budget (ie: before April, perhaps even February).


The government has completed its consultation on Phase 2 Infrastructure Investments and all indications are that the main infrastructure categories established in Phase 1 (Transit, Green, Social) will continue, but with a focus on new builds (not just repairing existing infrastructure) and stringent metrics for measuring progress.


The 5 big questions:

·         Will the new funding be allocation based, application based or a mixture of the two?

·         Will the Provinces be expected to contribute a substantial amount (at least 1/3) and will it be consistent across the country?

·         How will $2 billion ($200 million annually/10 years) in new funding for rural, remote, and northern communities roll out?

·         What will the new $35 billion “Infrastructure Bank” look like and will it truly help Municipalities?

·         Will the new National Housing Strategy deliver by working with and investing in Municipalities directly?


Broadband – New Funding Available for Municipalities

Some big decisions out of Ottawa recently. The CRTC has declared broadband internet access a basic service across the country, just like current landline telephone service.


The CRTC has said the aim is to ensure Internet service providers (ISPs) offer internet services nationwide at speeds of at least 50 megabits per second for downloading data, and 10 Mbps for uploads.


The Government also launched a new program called “Connect to Innovate”, which will distribute the $500 million allocated in Budget 2016 to eligible rural communities (defined as a named place with a population of less than 30,000 residents and that is 2 km or more from the nearest 1 Gbps PoP).


The deadline to apply for this fund is March 2017. If you would like assistance in applying or finding out if you are eligible, please do not hesitate to contact MAS.


Housing

The Federal Government has nearly concluded its consultations on a National Housing Strategy, now expected to be released in 2017.

You can read their preliminary findings here.


Amongst the main themes relevant for Municipalities, they heard:

·         The importance of delivering long-term and predictable funding

·         A fundamental goal of a National Housing Strategy should be to eliminate homelessness

·         A National Housing Strategy should take an integrated approach, building on the capacity of all orders of government

·         Canadians said housing they can afford and that meets their needs was the most important housing outcome


Readying your Municipality for Legalization

Marijuana legalization will greatly affect Municipalities across the country. For some, it will be their police force time commitments and dispensary regulation, for others it will be bylaws around building codes and home sales.

There is a lot to consider in this Report by the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization. 


Some interesting points affecting Municipalities:

·         Municipalities and Indigenous national organizations and representatives should be included in discussions regarding the equitable allocation of revenues.

·         Concerns were raised about the “downloading” of regulatory responsibilities and costs to Municipalities.

·         Representatives from Municipalities told the Task Force about the challenges current medical grow operations pose to neighbours, landlords and communities because of fires, break-ins and rental properties rendered uninhabitable due to mold or other contaminants.

·         the Task Force believes that the Government should respond to the concerns expressed by Municipalities, law enforcement officials and community members by immediately reviewing the current risks associated with designated production and the ongoing need for such production.

·         Municipalities believe that licensing is a key tool in protecting the health and safety of their communities.

The Task Force recommends that the wholesale distribution of cannabis be regulated by provinces and territories and that retail sales be regulated by the provinces and territories in close collaboration with municipalities. The Task Force further recommends that the retail environment include:

·         No co-location of alcohol or tobacco and cannabis sales, wherever possible. When co-location cannot be avoided, appropriate safeguards must be put in place

·         Limits on the density and location of storefronts, including appropriate distance from schools, community centres, public parks, etc.

·         Dedicated storefronts with well-trained, knowledgeable staff

·         Access via a direct-to-consumer mail-order system


The Task Force recommends allowing personal cultivation of cannabis for non-medical purposes with the following conditions:

·         A limit of four plants per residence

·         A maximum height limit of 100 cm on the plants

·         A prohibition on dangerous manufacturing processes

·         Reasonable security measures to prevent theft and youth access

·         Oversight and approval by local authorities

 

With that, you are up to date on Federal-Municipal relations to start your year.


I hope this has been helpful,

Shawn

 

Shawn Menard is a Public Policy and Government Relations Practitioner, residing in the City of Ottawa, Canada. He previously worked within the Federal government, and also managed the Government Relations work for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) advocating on behalf of 2,000 municipalities with all federal political parties. He holds an MA in Public Administration from Carleton University. He owns Municipal Advocacy Solutions, working for individual municipalities and associations in Ottawa.