Big-city mayors lay out nation-building priorities (01/06/2017)
Transit, housing, and provincial cost-share dominate meetings with Ministers
On the eve of Canada 150 celebrations, FCM's Big City Mayors' Caucus (BCMC) gathered in the nation's capital today to outline their nation-building infrastructure priorities for a group of cabinet ministers and senior federal officials.
"It took real leadership to launch an $81 billion infrastructure plan-but now leadership means designing programs that turn those dollars into outcomes. If our federal partner gets this right, cities are ready to deliver real economic growth and a higher quality of life for Canadians," said Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton and BCMC Chair.
The long-term federal infrastructure plan announced in Budget 2017 responds to key BCMC recommendations. Those include predictable funding for transit expansions and a major federal re-engagment on affordable housing. The plan's outcomes, however, still hinge on upcoming program design decisions and federal negotations with provinces.
"City-building is nation-bulding, and we've got a federal partner that gets it. They've engaged cities extensively because we know what our cities need, what works and how to deliver. Our message today is that if we're going to build this country together, the federal government will need to keep engaging cities as they bring provinces on board," said Iveson.
Today's invited guests include Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Adam Vaughan (parliamentary secretary to the housing minister), Andrew Leslie, (parliamentary secretary to the foreign affairs minister), and other senior officials.
The mayors pressed their federal counterparts for leadership to secure the provincial cost-sharing that's needed to move transit expansions forward. The BCMC advocates a "40/40/20" benchmark, where Ottawa would pay 40 per cent of capital costs, with provinces and cities covering 40 and 20 per cent respectively. The group also called for "urgent and concrete" commitments to fund social and affordable housing repairs and construction-as well as predictable green infrastructure funding for city projects that cut climate-changing emissions.
"Cities are Canada's social and economic engines, and our local solutons have deep national impact. Better transit means faster commutes but also economic growth. Affordable housing is the bedrock of cities that compete for talent and investment. We've got a huge opportunity here to build tomorrow's Canada, and our cities are ready to get to work," said Iveson.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of local government, with nearly 2,000 members representing more than 90 per cent of the Canadian population. Its Big City Mayors' Caucus convenes 22 large Canadian cities from coast to coast.
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