Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Big City Mayors Caucus Convenes in Calgary to Address Key Municipal Issues and Urgent Federal Action: “This collaboration is key to addressing issues like housing affordability and mental health support effectively.”Say Rowena Santos

The Big City Mayors Caucus (BCMC), part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), recently convened in Calgary to address some of the most pressing challenges facing Canada’s largest cities. The event brought together representatives from 23 major Canadian cities, including Brampton, represented by Councillor Rowena Santos.

The BCMC meeting focused on critical issues such as housing affordability, the national homelessness crisis, and the growing mental health challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor of Halifax and BCMC Chair Mike Savage emphasized the need for a modern municipal growth framework to empower cities to address these challenges effectively.

“We are witnessing firsthand the immense pressures on our urban centers,” said Mayor Savage. “Our discussions today are crucial in forging a path forward where federal, provincial, and municipal governments work collaboratively to tackle these issues head-on.”

Regional Councillor Rowena Santos, attending on behalf of the City of Brampton ON, participated in these vital discussions, reinforcing Brampton’s commitment to addressing local and national challenges through innovative solutions and strong intergovernmental partnerships.

“The challenges we face require collective action and a shared vision,” said Councillor Santos. “By working together, we can create sustainable solutions that ensure our cities remain vibrant and resilient for all residents. This collaboration is key to addressing issues like housing affordability and mental health support effectively.”

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) urgently calls for federal action to equip municipalities with the tools they need to ensure the quality of life Canadians deserve. FCM published a report with recommendations detailing how to achieve a new, fair, and predictable municipal growth framework. This plan would allow local governments to maintain and build the infrastructure residents need daily and deliver the services they depend on in their everyday lives.

“The time for bold, visionary, and impactful ideas has come,” said FCM President and Mayor of the Township of Gore Scott Pearce. “A new municipal growth framework would notably enable better public transport and relieve congestion in our cities. It would ensure more affordable housing and facilitate access to home ownership. Municipalities could maintain and build more green spaces where we can gather and play with our children. We could offer more services to citizens who rely on these resources daily.”

Councillor Santos added, “We need immediate action to develop and implement these frameworks. The federal government must recognize the critical role municipalities play and provide the necessary support to meet our growing demands. Our communities depend on it.”

FCM is calling on the federal government to commit by the next Fall Economic Statement to convene a conversation with all orders of government to work together to negotiate a new municipal growth framework. This renewed framework includes recommendations such as linking federal transfers to economic growth, increasing annual transfers to municipalities, and developing a cohesive plan with all orders of government to end chronic homelessness.

“Big cities are a motor for progress and also dealing with a growing number of issues,” added Mike Savage. “We are limited by a financial system that doesn’t give us the power to solve local problems on the scale needed in 2024 and beyond. Cities provide important services and infrastructure, but they only get 8 to 10 cents for every tax dollar. We need to get federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal leaders around the same table, working together to negotiate this framework. This needs to happen immediately. Canadians can’t wait any longer.”

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek emphasized the need for a new growth framework to address issues such as Canada’s historic population growth and increasing severe weather events. “As municipalities like Calgary continue to grow and face the challenges of serving new and existing residents, we need more financial resources like those in FCM’s Municipal Growth Framework. Ottawa needs to step up and ensure that municipalities receive the necessary support to serve the well-being of all Canadians,” said Mayor Gondek.

The FCM report, “Making Canada’s Growth a Success,” and its recommendations can be downloaded from the FCM website. The report was released as part of the press conference following the BCMC meeting, held in conjunction with FCM’s annual conference.

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