TORONTO, May 31 /CNW Telbec/ - When the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' (FCM) annual conference wraps up today in Toronto, municipal leaders will return home united in their campaign to build a post-stimulus partnership with Ottawa that confronts the growing national challenges playing out on local streets.
"Prime Minister Harper said there's no way his government could have fought the recession without municipalities building thousands of stimulus projects and matching federal funding dollar for dollar," said FCM President-Elect Hans Cunningham, director, Regional District of Central Kootenay, B.C. "We need to put that partnership to work solving longer-term challenges, from homelessness to organized crime to the infrastructure deficit."
The more than 1,500 delegates in attendance unanimously endorsed resolutions calling on federal, provincial and territorial governments to work with municipalities to set hard targets for cutting traffic gridlock and rising commute times; and to re-invest expiring federal social housing subsidies to reduce pressure on emergency shelters and cut waiting lists for affordable housing.
Delegates welcomed a commitment by federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice to open a new dialogue with municipalities on the implementation of costly new federal wastewater regulations requiring cities and communities to rebuild more than 25 per cent of Canada's wastewater treatment systems.
"As the government fights its fiscal deficit it needs to know there's a deficit in our cities and communities that doesn't show up on its balance sheet. Municipalities are forced to pay for growing responsibilities with a 19th-century property tax - and we're required by law to balance our books each and every year," said Cunningham. "We have to choose every day between improving water quality, putting more police on our streets, and rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges."
"Stimulus spending will end in 10 months but the underlying partnership must grow. That partnership isn't just about how much we spend, but how we spend it. By working together, governments can turn ad hoc spending into coordinated strategies that deliver clear, measurable results on issues affecting Canadians. That will save tax payers money and build a stronger country. We can't wait to get started."
SOURCE Federation of Canadian Municipalities
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