Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and his colleagues in the Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC) of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) met on Thursday in Ottawa to craft a shortlist of federal budget proposals—to turn election commitments into faster commutes, more affordable housing and other concrete outcomes for Canadians.
“This first budget is crucial for Canada’s cities and communities,” said Mayor Vrbanovic. “This is where the new government must partner with municipal leaders to get things done for Canadians. That includes working with our city and our region to deliver real results on the ground ranging from building new supportive housing units for those who need them the most to making key investments to help us address the climate emergency which many of us have declared.”
Thursday’s full-day session included meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, along with the ministers responsible for finance (Morneau), infrastructure (McKenna) and housing (Hussen). Together, they discussed a range of proposals, including:
• Housing: Launch a program to preserve lower-cost market rental housing, while making it more energy-efficient—and grow the National Housing Strategy to build more affordable housing for Indigenous Canadians and supportive housing for people living with mental illness and substance use.
• Climate adaptation: Empower municipalities to continue adapting communities and local infrastructure to new climate extremes, by topping up the successful but depleted federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.
• Transit: Implement the election commitment to permanently fund public transit expansions, so cities can continue cutting commutes and emissions—while building on election commitments to support faster transitions to zero-emission transit fleets.
Over the course of the day, the mayors also heard from Rick Hansen about making accessibility a priority in our cities and discussed a number of other issues including the opioid crisis, FCM’s Western Economic Solutions Taskforce and the new program offerings coming from FCM’s Green Municipal Fund.
“Our message today was straightforward: when Ottawa invests in our city and our region, we deliver for our community,” said Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “We’re ready to deliver faster commutes, more affordable housing and a richer quality of life—and by doing that, we’ll deliver the climate progress that our federal partners stressed today. This is about deepening our municipal-federal partnership to get more done.”