$13.5 billion for infrastructure in 2013 Ontario budget


The Ontario government has reaffirmed in its 2013 budget its commitment to building and improving roads, transit and municipal projects by investing $13.5 billion in infrastructure.

Finance minister Charles Sousa delivered the budget, which included a six-part economic renewal plan, earlier today at Queen’s Park. Part of that six-part plan is $35 billion over the next three years for public infrastructure – an element of the budget that is expected to be well-received by Ontario construction industry leaders.

According to budget documents, the province recorded a $9.8 billion deficit in 2012-2013, which the government hopes to eliminate by 2017-2018.

The province remains adamant on investing into “critical areas” such as transportation, health care and education infrastructure. Transit funding will experience significant funding increase — almost $3.4 billion in 2013-2014 compared to $2.5 billion in 2012-2013.

The money will help fund municipal transit developments including the City of Ottawa’s light rail transit (LRT) project – up to $600 million, Waterloo Region’s rapid transit project – up to $300 million and the TTC subway line extension to York University and into Vaughan – up to $870 million.

The province also plans to increase funding and collaboration with Metrolinx to bring its major initiatives to fruition including The Big Move project. Metrolinx will reveal a more detailed funding strategy to fund The Big Move on June 1.

To help pay for their transportation and public transit initiatives, the provincial government plans to adopt new revenue tools which include turning select high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) into high-occupancy toll lanes. Drivers with one or more passengers would still be able to take the HOV lane for free whereas other drivers have the option to pay for its use.

The government plans to build new HOV lanes on sections of Highway 401, 404, 410 and 427 in the GTHA.

Ontario will also continue to allocate two cents per litre of provincial gas tax revenues toward the funding of public transit, which has brought in $2.2 billion toward public transit systems since 2004.

The budget includes $2.2 billion in provincial highway infrastructure funding which will help fund projects including the widening of Highway 401 in the GTHA, Highway 417 in Ottawa and extending Highway 407 eastward through the Durham Region, among others.

The province is also set to commit $3.5 billion over the next three years into various hospital projects including the construction of the new Oakville Hospital of Halton Healthcare Services and Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital.

Education infrastructure will receive a boost in funding as well, with the government expected to provide $3.6 billion in capital grants to school boards for the purpose of building and improving better learning environments at almost 90 schools across Ontario. This funding will be spread out over the next three years and will help make room for the all-day kindergarten program which is expected to roll out in 2014.

Post-secondary institutions will also get a lift thanks to a $800-million over the next three years geared toward college and university infrastructure. Some construction projects include Laurentian University’s School of Architecture and Sir Sanford Fleming College’s Kawartha Trade’s and Technology Centre in Peterborough.

The 2013 budget also includes $100 million dedicated toward small and rural Ontario infrastructure to build and maintain municipal roads, bridges and other “critical infrastructure”.

SOURCE: Daily Commercial News

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