With a multi-year research grant from Infrastructure Canada, the Centre Urban Research and Education (CURE) with the School of Public Policy and Administration, has undertaken a major study on the gas tax transfer and urban infrastructure in Canadian municipalities.

The purpose of the project is to explore how Canadian municipalities will govern and spend the federal transfer of the gas tax. As one of the most significant transfers of tax room in the postwar period, the intent of the transfer is to help municipalities stimulate investment in “environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure to support environmental sustainability objectives”. The research will evaluate spending and outcomes in selected municipalities against these objectives.

Research Questions

  • What governance structures are being established by the provinces to administer and allocate the federal gasoline tax to municipalities and communities?
  • What is the significance of the provincial differences for infrastructure spending in each of the provinces?
  • What impact does the gas tax have on provincial and municipal spending patterns?
  • What impact is the new money having on the infrastructure ‘gap’?
  • To what extent are outcomes aligned with federal government objectives?
  • What might the implications be for future agreements?

Research Themes:

Cities, communities and public infrastructure

  • How can the federal government better enable and facilitate planning for sustainable infrastructure and for sustainability more generally in Canada’s communities?
  • What are the implications of designing and implementing public policy based on community size compared to community location or other characteristics?

Financing mechanisms for infrastructure and communities

  • What is the record on the use of different mechanisms for financing infrastructure in Canada and in other jurisdictions? To what extent is a variety of mechanisms being used?
  • What are the winning conditions for using different mechanisms, individually or in tandem? What are the key factors affecting the use and acceptance of different mechanisms and why? What are the effects and why?

Governance issues related to infrastructure and communities

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of alternative approaches and arrangements for delivering effective infrastructure projects (e.g. for mitigating cost over-runs) and for more generally meeting the infrastructure needs of communities (e.g. through priority-setting processes, regional service delivery models, enhanced accountabilities, capital investment and sustainability planning and asset management)?
  • To what extent is community size a key variable in community capacity and the design and effectiveness of infrastructure and communities policies? Why? How does its impact compare with that of other factors?
  • What are the features of successful tripartite arrangements between governments? What are the key challenges?

Faculty and researchers involved include: Dr. Susan Phillips, Dr. Allan Maslove, Dr. Francois Brouard, Dr. Christopher Stoney and Dr. Gene Swimmer. For more information about the Gas Tax project, please contact Dr. Christopher Stoney