JOC ARCHIVES

March 3, 2014

Big city mayors tackle aging transportation systems and affordable housing shortage

Canada's Big City Mayors'; Caucus (BCMC) is calling on provincial, territorial and federal partners to work with cities to improve aging transportation systems and to fix the affordable housing shortage, which they say are two key impediments to cities' growth.

“The national housing crunch and traffic gridlock are holding our cities back,” said BCMC chair and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson in a statement from the organization’s recent meeting in Ottawa.

“We need to fix this because our future depends on keeping our cities strong.”

One-third of Canada’s municipal roads need significant repairs and traffic costs the economy $10 billion annually in lost productivity with the average commuter spending 34 days a year in their car, pointed out the BCMC.

The high costs of home ownership and shortages of affordable and rental housing are pushing Canadians deeper into debt, and pushing the most vulnerable on to the street, says the BCMC.

“This year’s federal budget was a missed opportunity to deliver real solutions to Canada’s housing crunch, and while we’re glad that the new Building Canada Fund is one step closer to reality, we’re concerned it won’t do enough to improve transit and shorten commutes” said Robertson.

“We need to help cities drive Canada’s prosperity by working together and taking immediate action on transportation and housing.”

The BCMC is calling for Canada to take practical steps to build stronger cities and a stronger economy.

First, federal and provincial governments must guarantee a lion’s share of the New Building Canada Fund for municipal projects, including public transit.

Second, the federal government must take action to avert a housing disaster by developing a long-term housing plan for next year’s budget that will make life more affordable for Canadians and reverse the withdrawal of existing federal social housing investments worth $1.7 billion per year. The mayors objected to proposed new federal funding rules that would make it more difficult to meet local needs in areas such as roads, and sports and recreation.

The caucus also passed a resolution calling on Canada Post to stop its plan to eliminate door-to-delivery until municipal concerns have been fully addressed through meaningful consultations.

The BCMC represents 22 of the largest cities in Canada which, collectively, are home to more than 65 per cent of Canada’s population.

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