Communications and Signage Requirements

INFORMATION SHEET ON THE RENEWED FEDERAL GAS TAX FUND
Revised January 8, 2016

WHAT IS THE RENEWED FEDERAL GAS TAX FUND?
Nova Scotia and Canada entered into a new federal Gas Tax Fund (GTF) Administrative Agreement as part of the New Building Canada Plan on July 3, 2014. The renewed GTF provides predictable, long-term funding for Nova Scotia municipalities for a 10-year term (2014-2024), representing an estimated investment of $580 million. The purpose of the funding is to help Nova Scotia municipalities address local infrastructure priorities, while supporting the national objectives of growing the economy, sustaining a healthy environment and building viable communities.

HOW CAN GTF BE USED?
Municipalities can use GTF to support local infrastructure and capacity building priorities that fall under the eligible investment categories (more information on these categories is included below). Municipal Funding Agreements (MFA), which all municipalities signed last year, set out GTF project guidelines. However, municipalities have flexibility in the initiatives they undertake, based on local priorities.

WHAT’S NEW?

GTF Improvements
The Government of Canada has made a number of important changes to improve the GTF. Most notably, it has enshrined GTF in legislation to make it a permanent source of infrastructure funding, and indexed it by two percent per year to keep pace with inflation.


Eligible Investment Categories Added
To provide more flexibility, the eligible GTF investment categories have been expanded. The original seven eligible categories remain: drinking water, wastewater, solid waste, public transit, local roads and bridges, community energy and capacity building. The following 11 categories have been added:

  • disaster mitigation
  • broadband connectivity
  • highways
  • short-line rail
  • short-sea shipping
  • brownfield redevelopment
  • regional and local airports
  • cultural infrastructure
  • tourism infrastructure
  • sport infrastructure
  • recreational infrastructure

Refined Criteria for the Community Energy Category
On December 1, Infrastructure Canada released a schedule revising the criteria for the Community Energy Systems category as it relates to new building construction and municipal building retrofits. The new schedule provides further detail.

Under the Community Energy Systems category, energy-efficient components of new building construction and building retrofits may be eligible for Gas Tax Funds (GTF), if they meet the following criteria:

New Building Construction:

  • An energy audit is NOT required if the energy efficiency gained from the new building components can be measured by the number of kilowatt hours or litres of fuel saved.
  • Only the cost differences of those energy efficient building components that exceed National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) standards are eligible for GTF. Municipalities are required to maintain documentation of these components.

 

Municipal Building Retrofit:

  • An energy audit IS required to show the number of kilowatt hours or litres of fuel saved from the new energy efficient upgrades.
  • Only the cost differences of those energy efficient upgrades that exceed NBCC standards are eligible for GTF. Municipalities are required to maintain documentation of these components.
  • The cost for an energy audit is GTF-eligible.

It is recommended that municipalities contact the Province to confirm eligibility before beginning any new building construction or building retrofit project for which they intend to use GTF. For further clarification on this revision or to discuss project eligibility, please contact Hardy Stuckless, Manager of Infrastructure Programs, Department of Municipal Affairs at 902 424-2770 or

Asset Management Requirement
The renewed GTF places a greater emphasis on long-term capital planning and asset management. As a result, municipalities are required to participate in the development of asset management plans. In the MFA, an asset management plan is defined as a document that “support(s) integrated lifecycle approaches to effective stewardship of infrastructure assets in order to maximize benefits and manage risks”.

At a minimum, municipalities are required to include an inventory and condition of municipal infrastructure assets in their asset management plans. Over the coming months, the Province will consult with municipalities and relevant stakeholder groups to develop and begin implementing a province-wide asset management initiative to support municipalities in meeting this requirement.

Annual Expenditure Report Audit Requirement
With the new GTF Administrative Agreement, the requirement for municipalities to have Annual Expenditure Reports (AERs) audited has been removed. Instead, AERs have to be signed-off for accuracy and compliance by municipal directors of finance. The Province will engage an auditing firm to perform a GTF program audit. This contract will include a sampling of audits performed on municipalities, with the size and makeup of the sampling determined by implementing a risk-based approach. Final AERs are due July 31 annually.

Capital Investment Plan Requirement
Capital Investment Plans (CIP) are due to the Province by September 1 of each year and must include a list of planned capital projects along with required project-specific information over a minimum five-year period. GTF-eligible projects are to be identified and additional funding sources indicated for each project. Municipal councils must approve any GTF project proposed in year 1 of the CIP.

Signage Reporting Requirements
New signage reporting information is coming soon.  Please stay tuned!

WHAT IS UNSM’S ROLE IN SUPPORTING THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE GTF?
As of April 2015, UNSM has been providing support to the Department of Municipal Affairs to administer the 2014-24 GTF agreement, focusing its efforts on requirements for communications, project innovation/best practices and training tools. Some of UNSM’s tasks include, collecting information for the pre-construction and signage reports, developing project spotlights to highlight best practices and innovation in Nova Scotia, creating communication and training resources, participating in the development of asset management resources, conducting project site visits, and assisting municipalities to undertake sustainability initiatives that support the new federal GTF pillars. Through this work, UNSM aims to help municipalities meet the requirements of the program, by providing support and resources to assist them in making the most of GTF. UNSM intends to work with municipalities to raise the profile of local GTF initiatives, making a strong case for continued (and possibly enhanced) federal support.

ADDITIONAL GTF RESOURCES
General information on the federal GTF:
www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/gtf-fte-eng.html
www.novascotia.ca/dma/funding/infrastructure/gas-tax-fund.asp

 

Federal GTF project profiles:
www.infrastructure.gc.ca/prog/gtf-fte-prof-eng.html

 

Canada-Nova Scotia Administrative Agreement for GTF:
www.infrastructure.gc.ca/prog/agreements-ententes/gtf-fte/2014-ns-eng.html#sect9