Feb 05, 2015
By Michael Kramer
As this fall’s federal election approaches, the mayors of 19 of Canada’s biggest cities are presenting a united front – aiming to pressure the three federal political parties to include “robust” urban agendas in their platforms.
They also want a firm committment to funding for transit and housing in their communities.
After today’s morning summit, a number of mayors – including Toronto’s John Tory – repeated their message that about 80 per cent of Canadians now live in cities that are dealing with failing infrastructure and “crippling congestion.”
The mayors also pointed out that – in terms of ridings – their municipalities represent 142 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons – putting the onus on the federal parties to offer city dwellers investments in critical transit projects and affordable housing.
Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi quipped to reporters that, “whoever figures out how to fund transit, how to fund housing..I guess that person gets to be the next prime minister.”
Tory called the federal government’s partnership with cities “episodic,” and said “what we need is consistent, reliable, secure funding – so we can plan, particularly for transit.
The Harper government has pointed to its commitment in 2013 of $70-billion over 10 years for urban infrastructure projects – as evidence that the needs of cities are already a top priority.
The Big Cities Summit continues through the day.