London City Council seeking $200 million in federal funds

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

London City Council decided to create its wish list after Christmas this year.

The wish list is a selection of nearly $200 million worth of projects City Council hopes will be funded by federal funds as part of a stimulus package.

Highlights of the list include $6 million towards a green bin program and over $10 million going to affordable housing initiatives. Also on the list are several smaller upgrades, including allocations to London Transit and several small infrastructure projects.

To qualify for the list, projects need to be able to start right away and have the potential to create jobs for London residents. The initiatives listed are ones the city is required to take on eventually anyway. However, the possibility of a stimulus package will allow many of these proposals to be done sooner rather than later and for the city to dodge the bulk of the bill.

“Times will get better more quickly if we move more projects forward to create jobs,” Gina Barber, a controller for the City of London, said.

The decision to do these projects in the current economic condition is motivated by the current need for jobs in the area and a backlog of infrastructure projects.

“There has long been a significant infrastructure deficit and [these proposals] may go some way to address that. But we still have a long list of backlogged projects,” Barber said. “Doing them now will create productive jobs that will provide much needed infrastructure.”

The federal funding, however, is not guaranteed. According to Kul Bhatia, an economics professor at Western, the current economic downturn is causing more communities to ask for cash.

“Everybody is trying to apply,” Bhatia said. He explained that even if funds merely go into short term projects there will be short term gains for the job market.

“Word is around, that there will be a stimulus package,” Bhatia said in reference to the soon to be released federal budget.

If funding does not come through, many of the projects London has requested funding for will still need to be completed at a later date.

“[Council] will prioritize [the proposed projects] on the basis of jobs created, benefit to the community, alternative opportunities for funding and environmental impact,” Barker explained. “For example, we absolutely have to replace the administration building for the Upper Thames Recreational Authority to meet governmental standards.”

Details of the federal stimulus package will be released next week and will determine whether the city can go forward with its plans.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette