City of Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, along with Big City Mayors from across Canada, met last week in Quebec City with key federal officials to discuss closer federal-municipal relations, challenges faced by Canada's largest urban centres, and the various federal parties’ positions on supporting municipalities in the lead-up to this Fall’s federal election.
Key issues amongst those which were discussed included:
• modernizing the federal-municipal relationship to get things done for Canadians,
• permanent funding mechanism for public transit,
• tackling housing affordability challenges,
• building on the recent doubling of the Federal Gas Tax transfer to municipalities, and,
• empowering municipalities to build resiliency in the face of climate change.
“We know that City-building is nation-building, and that we can achieve the best possible results for our residents when all orders of government work together on behalf of all Canadians,” said Mayor Vrbanovic. “Maintaining dialogue with all political parties is very important for us, especially in a federal election year, and in speaking with our federal counterparts, increasingly there is clear understanding by all parties for cities to play a greater role in solving national challenges at the local level.”
A survey by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, with over 5,000 respondents, showed that municipalities are the most trusted level of government among all levels of government. Citizens also see problems that are national in scope can effectively be solved by municipalities. Respondents also supported greater predictable and sustainable funding so municipalities can play a greater role in solving problems, and to continue planning great and affordable cities for the future.
“Cities are builders, and when local and federal governments work together directly, we build better lives for Canadians,” said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, chair of FCM’s Big City Mayors’ Caucus. “Outdated relationships between orders of government still throttle so much local potential—for less congestion, more affordable housing and truly livable communities. We know there are ways to work together within the framework of Canada’s constitution, and this election is shaping up as an opportunity to take those steps.”
The mayors also discussed a variety of challenges stalling progress across Canada’s three orders of government. Mayors know that the inclusion of cities in these national decision-making forums and processes is a catalyst of collaboration and efficiency.