Bonus federal gas tax funding went towards roadwork and water main renewal

Federal gas tax funding of $1.5 million for the 2019-20 fiscal year helped pay for road work and water main renewal, the City of Thompson says.

The amount received in three instalments last year was double what it normally would be, says city manager Anthony McInnis.

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“The prime minister and the feds decided that [in 2019], I’m assuming because it’s an election year, that they would do a one-time doubling,” he said. “As part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), all the municipalities are asking the federal government to make that a permanent doubling.”

McInnis explained that the money is “basket funding” and that the mayor and council decide which projects are financed.

“There are specific parameters that are set out within the federal gas tax agreement that indicate where it can be spent,” says Thompson chief financial officer Jenny Krentz. “There are only certain projects that it can go towards. So, council deliberations determine where that money will be allocated – which projects to fund. Normally it’s roads funded by the gas tax, and last year we also funded part of the water main renewal.”

McInnis said in an email that the specific projects funded in 2019-20 were the Churchill Drive reconstruction, multi-use path construction (used to match funds received from FCM for the second phase of the path construction), geotechnical investigations and road design on Thompson Drive in preparation of summer 2020 road work, and the Riverside Drive water main/sewer renewal project

“It can’t be used for internal costs,” said McInnis. “We’ve had questions in the past – ‘Can we use it to pay our own crews, or to do internal projects?’ That’s not allowed under the gas tax program. Raw materials and all the labour [for roads] is what this normally goes to. So normally we put a tender out in the spring. We hire companies to come in, because it’s a specialty kind of trade, and they come in and do the roadwork every summer.”

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