Federal budget a game-changer for municipalities (22/03/2017)
Today's federal budget will empower local governments to drive significant economic growth — with a transformational investment plan for public transit expansions, substantive re-engagement in housing, and job-creating infrastructure projects across Canada.
"This budget is a game-changer because of the tools it gives municipalities to drive growth and a higher quality of life for Canadians," said FCM President Clark Somerville. "This budget's allocation-based transit plan puts cities in the driver's seat like never before, it creates a real opportunity to address the housing crisis, and its rural growth plan recognizes that Canada's future depends on communities of all sizes."
For 18 months, FCM has engaged federal officials and cabinet ministers in unprecedented dialogue on the design of the federal infrastructure plan. Today's budget responds to key recommendations put forward by the municipal leaders, which included:
- A transformational transit plan: This budget delivers a predictable, allocation-based funding plan for transit expansions. This empowers cities to launch the next era of fast and efficient public transit — to shorten commutes, boost productivity and reduce climate-changing emissions.
- Significant housing investment: This budget commits $11.2 billion over 11 years for affordable and social housing, including off-reserve and Northern housing, and measures to address homelessness. It also commits to preserving the baseline funding from social housing operating agreements. While the details of this commitment will be important, this is a crucial step toward protecting existing social housing — a municipal priority.
- A growth plan for rural Canada: This budget confirms a $2-billion investment plan dedicated to the unique priorities of rural, northern and remote communities — including better transportation links and more reliable broadband Internet access.
- Support for local green innovation: This budget prioritizes climate change, and municipalities will be looking to ensure that investment will be directed toward local projects — to reduce climate-changing emissions, to adapt communities to new weather extremes, and to support other environmental priorities.
Local governments have a track record of delivering cost-effective infrastructure solutions to national challenges, including growth and productivity. Building more livable, vibrant cities and communities — starting with better transit and more affordable housing — will also attract more of the talent and investment that Canada's needs for future growth.
"The game-changer in this budget is a transit plan that recognizes cities' role as nation-builders. This plan is really the model for how our governments can partner to achieve economic growth and climate goals," said Don Iveson, chair of FCM's Big-City Mayors' Caucus and Mayor of Edmonton. "They've also created a real opportunity to meaningfully address social and affordable housing, and we'll need to work together closely to ensure it delivers those outcomes."
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