Fresh off their cabinet retreat in St Andrews, N.B., the new federal infrastructure and communities minister is visiting Halifax.
Amarjeet Sohi has asked to meet with Mayor Mike Savage and stakeholders Wednesday to talk priorities.
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“We’re going to meet and talk about infrastructure. We’re going to identify things we think are important for the city,” said Savage.
“We also want to talk to him about some of the things the city has done with infrastructure money before, like our new library and the convention centre.”
Specifically on the agenda, infrastructure spending and what the city needs from the federal government.
“We’ve identified priorities for infrastructure over the last few years. They primarily centre around water and wastewater,” Savage said.
“Here in Halifax, our water commission is taking a proactive approach and identified a few years ago a list of work that needs to be done over the next couple of decades and it amounts to $2.5 billion in today’s value money. That’s a lot of money.”
Halifax Water spokesperson James Campbell says upgrades needed include replacing pipes, upgrading wastewater systems and meeting federal regulations. Some of that work has already started and received funding, including upgrades to the Aerotech Wastewater Treatment Plant.
There is still, however, much more work to be done.
“We have waste water system we’ve been saying for many, many years now they’re in very, very poor state of repair. We’ve been making those investments since 2007 to turn those around but it’s a long-term project and it’s very expensive,” said Campbell.
“If we don’t get funding from other levels of government, it’s all borne by our ratepayers.”
The mayor is calling Wednesday’s get-together with Sohi a “exploratory meeting.”
The federal government has indicated it wants to be more flexible when it comes to funding and Savage says he hopes the municipality will have more control over how money is spent.