Canada’s municipal leaders unite on nation-building priorities (16/09/2016)
Municipal leaders from across Canada gathered in Oakville this week to discuss the federal government's national infrastructure plan-and they left united on what's needed to ensure this ambitious plan to invest in Canada benefits all Canadians.
Local leaders are calling for a central role for municipalities in driving forward major transit and green infrastructure projects through streamlined and predictable funding allocations. They also prioritized dedicated funding to tackle the housing crisis, and an enhanced Small Communities fund to bolster rural Canada. That consensus was achieved at the September 13-16 meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' (FCM) Board of Directors.
"Canada's biggest challenges require local solutions," said Clark Somerville, FCM President and Regional Councillor of Halton. "Whether we're easing gridlock with better transit, cutting greenhouse gas emissions through green innovation, or making sure everyone has an affordable home, the municipal sector is ready to work in full partnership with other orders of government to build tomorrow's Canada."
Sharing their experiences with Phase 1 infrastructure funding across the country, board members acknowledged the vital importance of the federal government's decision to grow its contribution to 50 per cent of project costs. They agreed that to make the necessary strategic investments in the more ambitious Phase 2, provinces must partner with no less than their traditional one-third share of costs. To fully achieve its nation-building potential, Phase 2 must also streamline green and transit investment as predictable allocations for municipalities. This will enable local decision-makers to plan effectively, tap local expertise and drive cost-effective projects forward quickly.
"There is no one-size-fits-all solution to shaping the places where we live, work and raise our families. Local governments understand local priorities best. Delivering federal investment as predictable allocations will pack every construction season with real progress and ensure no communities are left out of nation-building," added Somerville.
Joined on-site by Canada's housing minister, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, local leaders welcomed plans for a National Housing Strategy but stressed the need for urgent investment in social and affordable housing to address the growing housing crisis. Impacts of the housing crisis topped the agenda again in a powerful presentation from Dwight Dorey, National Chief of the Indigenous Peoples' Assembly of Canada.
"Safe and affordable housing is the heart of livable communities-where people want to live, work, start businesses and build connections. In 2016, the bottom line is that a serious nation-building plan needs adequate investments to address Canada's housing crisis," said Somerville.
FCM is the national voice of municipal government in Canada. Its Board of Directors represents communities of all sizes from coast to coast to coast.