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Plenty to like in 2016 federal budget, say a variety of stakeholders

DCN News Service
Plenty to like in 2016 federal budget, say a variety of stakeholders

OTTAWA—Funding to overhaul First Nations communities, updates to building codes and upgrading public transit regionally was praised by various stakeholder groups following the unveiling of the federal budget on March 22.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) welcomed the federal budget as giving architects "the opportunity to shape a built environment that can improve the quality of life of Canadians and effect positive environmental change."

"It is encouraging to see much-needed investment in basic infrastructure as well as spaces for education and health care, especially in First Nations communities," said RAIC president Allan Teramura.

"We’re also pleased that the budget recognizes the importance of the building sector in achieving Canada’s climate change objectives," he said.

Further development of energy codes is crucial to reducing carbon emissions, Teramura said, adding that retrofitting the existing building stock to meet more ambitious energy conservation targets should be a priority for Canada.

Highlights of initiatives for First Nations communities welcomed by the RAIC included funding for expanded and enhanced health facilities in First Nations communities, housing needs on reserves and in Inuit and northern communities, construction of cultural and recreational communities on reserves and renovations to and construction of new shelters for victims of family violence in First Nations communities.

Green infrastructure initiatives praised by the RAIC included the mandate given to Natural Resources Canada to deliver energy efficiency policies and programs, including improved energy efficiency standards and codes for buildings and the integration of climate resilience into building design guides and codes.

With Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr on the road post budget to talk to stakeholders, the MNR issued a statement indicating that support to permit the articulation of revised environmental assessment principles for major natural resource projects was included in the budget. A set of interim principles had been introduced on Jan. 27.

Budget 2016 proposes to provide $16.5 million over three years, starting in 2016–17, to the National Energy Board, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada to implement the interim approach.

In Laval, Que., its public transit authority welcomed the $924 million allocated to the province over three years for transit infrastructure and investment, saying it would take steps to move on priority projects in the city including building new storage and maintenance infrastructures for vehicles.

"The creation of the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund is a step forward to ensuring the short term sustainability of the equipment and services that we already have in place," said David De Cotis,  president of the board of directors of the Société de transport de Laval.

The Canadian Gas Association issued a statement indicating that that the budget will be a boon to its sector in addition to boosting economic growth nationwide. Among the spending plans it identified as of particular interest to the gas sector were:

— funding to support clean technology research, development and demonstration activities to drive innovation;

— $62.5 million over two years to support the deployment of refuelling infrastructure for alternative transportation vehicles, including natural gas refuelling stations;

— funding to support energy projects in off-grid Indigenous and northern communities;

— $573.9 million over two years to support energy efficiency improvements in social housing units; and

— $40 million over five years to revise national building codes for residential, institutional, commercial and industrial facilities by 2020.

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