Mayors say cities held back by housing costs and transportation gridlock (26/02/2014)
OTTAWA - Canada's Big City Mayors' Caucus (BCMC) today said that Canada must unlock the full potential of its cities in order to win the global race for investment, talent and jobs and protect its quality of life. The mayors called on provincial, territorial and federal partners to work with cities to fix the affordable housing shortage and improve aging transportation systems, two key impediments to growth.
The call came as BCMC members gathered at Ottawa City Hall today for their semi-annual meeting.
"The national housing crunch and traffic gridlock are holding our cities back," said BCMC Chair and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. "We need to fix this because our future depends on keeping our cities strong."
Across Canada one-third of municipal roads need significant repairs. Every year, traffic costs the economy $10 billion in lost productivity and the average commuter spends 34 days in their car. The high-costs of home ownership and shortages of affordable and rental housing are pushing Canadians deeper into debt, and pushing the most vulnerable on to the street.
"This year's federal budget was a missed opportunity to deliver real solutions to Canada's housing crunch, and while we're glad that the new Building Canada Fund is one step closer to reality, we're concerned it won't do enough to improve transit and shorten commutes" said Mayor Robertson. "We need to help cities drive Canada's prosperity by working together and taking immediate action on transportation and housing."
The BCMC is calling for Canada to take practical steps to build stronger cities and a stronger economy.
First, federal and provincial governments must guarantee a lion's share of the New Building Canada Fund for municipal projects, including public transit. Second, the federal government must take action to avert a housing disaster by developing a long-term housing plan for next year's budget that will make life more affordable for Canadians and reverse the withdrawal of existing federal social housing investments worth $1.7 billion per year.
The caucus passed a resolution calling on Canada Post to stop its plan to eliminate door-to-delivery until municipal concerns have been fully addressed through meaningful consultations. The mayors also objected to proposed new federal funding rules that would make it more difficult to meet local needs in areas such as roads, and sports and recreation.
The BCMC represents 22 of the largest cities in Canada which, collectively, are home to more than 65 per cent of Canada's population.