+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 1-23F

Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program Funding

Date:
November 8, 2023
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2026
Active Status:
Active
Sponsors:
Thorhild County
District:
3 - Pembina River
Year:
2023
Convention:
Fall
Category:
Transportation and Infrastructure
Status:
Intent Not Met
Vote Results:
Carried
Preamble:

WHEREAS municipally-maintained roads and bridges are vital for the transportation of goods and services related to the continuation of Alberta’s strong economy; and

WHEREAS Alberta continues to experience growth requiring constant improvement and new construction of aging municipally-controlled bridges; and

WHEREAS the cost to construct or replace roads and bridges form a significant portion of rural municipal infrastructure deficits, ranging from $500,000 to $1 million per kilometer of road or bridge structure; and

WHEREAS the Local Road Bridge Program stream of the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program may be utilized to upgrade municipal bridges;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate to the Government of Alberta to substantially increase the funding available for the Local Road Bridge Program stream in the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program.

Member Background:

Rural roads and bridges are not only vital to local communities but serve as important arteries to help Alberta’s economy grow by connecting natural resources to national and international transportation corridors. Rural municipalities manage the majority of Alberta’s roads (77% or 173,226km) and bridges/culverts (61% or 8,468 km). At a cost of between $500,000 and $1 million to construct one kilometer of road and a similar cost to construct a bridge or culvert, the costs of managing transportation infrastructure form a significant portion of rural municipal expenses. Many of these bridges are currently beyond their useful life.

Resource roads, local road bridges and community airports are critical to the viability of rural communities and Alberta’s industrial and resource development. The Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) provides rural municipalities with a dedicated funding source for this infrastructure and should remain adequately funded and accessible to rural municipalities. While the 2023-2024 provincial budget included a modest increase in the STIP program from $35 to $43 million, it still falls well short of the need for rural bridge and infrastructure funding. The Local Road Bridge Program stream of the STIP grant program averaged $15.5 million in the previous two years.

Many rural municipalities work to properly monitor the age and condition of infrastructure and develop a long-term asset management plan for maintenance and replacement. To support continued long-term asset management practices and necessary infrastructure investment, appropriate provincial funding to enable rural municipalities to continue to manage and maintain infrastructure that supports the transportation network that keep Alberta’s economy and people moving. Given Alberta’s recent economic growth and the role of rural roads and bridges in supporting resource industries, STIP funding should be increased so that municipalities can continue to care for the majority of Alberta’s infrastructure, without increasing the financial burden on rural areas.

 

RMA Background:

RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

Government Response:

Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors

Budget 2023 maintained our commitment for Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP), with a total of $93.2 million in funding over three years. The department approved $37.5 million in STIP grants, which supports 69 local road,

bridge, and community airport projects across the province, 58 of which were

Local Road Bridge projects totaling $28.3 million.

It is important to note that STIP is oversubscribed due to aging infrastructure, and we

expect demand to continue. TEC recognizes that increasing STIP funding is critical to

fulfilling the department’s mandate to work with municipalities to assess and improve

strategic infrastructure, including bridges. We continue to advocate for additional

funding under STIP for local transportation infrastructure. Any funding decisions as part of Budget 2024 will be communicated in early 2024.

Development:

The Government of Alberta’s (GOA’s) response to this resolution speaks to the current funding which has been allocated and the total projects which have been approved in 2023 through STIP. Although this funding is beneficial to municipalities, the fact that it has been over-subscribed speaks to the need for additional funding to be allocated.

STIP provides rural municipalities with crucial application-based funding for local road bridges, resource roads, and community airports. Since 2013, annual STIP funding has fluctuated between a low of $0 and a high of $43 million, with an annual average of about $23 million. RMA members collectively manage over 14,000 bridges and culverts, many of which are nearing their end of life and providing crucial access to natural resources in industries such as oil and gas, forestry and agriculture.

To ensure STIP is adequately funded to meet rural municipal needs and ensure rural roads and bridges continue to support economic growth, funding amounts should be linked to the current infrastructure deficit and the risks associated with failing infrastructure. The RMA is currently undertaking a study of rural municipal infrastructure deficits which will give insight to the difficulties in maintaining and repairing existing infrastructure.

As the GOA is unable to commit to more funding at this time, the resolution has been assigned a status of Intent Not Met. RMA will continue to monitor announcements regarding this funding and will be advocate for additional funding in Budget 2024.

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