Building Roads with Gas Tax Funds

UBCM is getting ready to talk to the Province and the Federal Government about a renewed Gas Tax Agreement, and will soon be sending you a survey about that.  To provide some context for that survey, we are preparing a series of Compass articles about the current agreement. In this issue:  How to build a road with Gas Tax Funds.

Road eligibility in BC is the same as in other provinces

One of the common misunderstandings about the current Gas Tax Agreement in BC is that eligibility for road infrastructure is more narrowly defined than is the case in Gas Tax Agreements in other provinces and territories.  

That was the case in the original BC agreement, signed in 2005, which limited some road system improvements to those that encourage a reduction in car dependency.  That restriction was in addition to the requirement, common in all agreements nationally, that all eligible infrastructure projects must lead to cleaner air, cleaner water or reduced greenhouse gas emissions.  Amendments to the BC Agreement were made in 2010 to effectively remove the reduction in car dependency requirement, and to rewrite all eligible project categories to ensure that they were as broad as those in other agreements.  UBCM provided correspondence in November of 2010 to all communities receiving allocated funds to advise them of this change in eligibility.

BC's was the first Gas Tax Agreement to be signed and as such the description of eligible project categories was designed without the benefit of knowing the pattern that would later develop for those descriptions. Once that pattern became known, we worked with our federal and provincial gas tax partners on amendments to the BC Gas Tax Agreement to better align the project category descriptions with others across the country.  

The authority in the BC agreement now provides eligibility for “Local Roads, Bridges and Tunnels” and “Active Transportation Infrastructure”, which taken together are virtually identical to most other agreements across Canada.  We should note that other provincial/territorial agreements often do not provide road infrastructure eligibility for large cities.  In BC, the local road, bridge and tunnel and active transportation infrastructure categories are available only outside of the Metro Vancouver region.

As a result, communities in other areas of the province that want to replace or resurface roads are free to do so, provided (as with all projects receiving Gas Tax Funds) that they can demonstrate an outcome of cleaner air, reduced GHG emissions or cleaner water, and provided that the project is not routine repair or maintenance.

Outcomes can be demonstrated in a number of ways. Projects to replace unpaved surfaces with paved surfaces may lead to cleaner air. Projects to replace degraded paved surfaces with paved surfaces may lead to reduced GHG emissions. Intersection improvements that reduce congestion can lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions from idling.

Watch for our article in next week's edition of The Compass that will highlight eligible costs across project categories.

For further information, please feel free to give us a call at 250 356-5134, or drop us an email at GT-PT@ubcm.ca.

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