The federal government will be issuing its budget next month, and most of it's already settled. However, that's not stopping the Association of Manitoba Municipalities from continuing to lobby for vital changes. 

President Kam Blight is especially concerned about the Community Building Fund.

"This is something that's been up for renegotiation between the feds and the provinces," explains Blight, "and then how it's distributed to municipalities. It's something that we've been lobbying for quite some time now on. We're asking for them to maintain the program as it was but do a permanent doubling of the amounts as being sent up to municipalities, like was done twice over the past five years, roughly in light of COVID."

He adds this has proved to have been the single-best funding stream that municipalities have been able to use when it's tied to another level of government. It's almost like there are no strings attached. Municipalities are able to use them for infrastructure-related projects as they see fit. 

"It just makes a massive difference to municipalities maintaining and improving their communities. Right now, it looks like there are going to be changes made to that and it's very concerning for us. We just did not want to see it tampered with."

He explains there are talks of tying housing to the dollars received, which is fine for larger centres. 

"But for communities in Manitoba, aside from the city of Winnipeg, that's real challenging," continues Blight. "We don't have a huge number of housing builds in a lot of our municipalities in the province of Manitoba, especially when you're talking about rural municipalities that have lower population. If they're supposed to meet a certain housing threshold in order to receive some of these, that's just not attainable. It's totally missing the mark and it just speaks to a lack of understanding as to what municipal needs really are."

They heard changes involving a population threshold on communities of above 30,000 were mentioned that are tied to these housing targets, but Blight notes nobody knows that for sure. As far as he's concerned, it's a very slippery slope when they begin talking along those lines.

"It just makes you wonder what else would be tied to a threshold similar to this, or when will they be lowering these thresholds," notes Blight. "We want them to keep it exactly the way it was in the past and just provide double the funding like they had been. We do know the federal government's revenues have really gone up at an extreme amount over the past number of years. The amount of funds they are providing the municipalities has not."