The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area mayors and regional chairs met in Toronto yesterday to discuss a number of key issues. I was pleased to have been part of this important conversation.
Among the agenda items at this week’s meeting hosted by Toronto Mayor John Tory were: economic growth across the area, transit and transportation, and planning for growth infrastructure.
The dialogue around deliverables for planning and infrastructure resulted in the signing and submission of the following letter to our counterparts in Ottawa.
While municipalities are very appreciative of federal gas tax funding, we need additional meaningful and predictable federal funding that will assist municipalities in addressing infrastructure, housing and transportation needs, lessening pressure on municipal taxpayers.
We are hopeful the following submitted letter will draw the appropriate attention and response.
A letter from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Mayors and Regional Chairs to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe.
October 6, 2015
Dear Federal Party Leaders:
We are writing you today as the leaders of the municipal governments of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Over the past years, we have separately and collectively expressed our profound concern over the infrastructure deficit in our region and our need for a fiscal partnership with the federal government to help eliminate this deficit. With a federal election approaching, we feel it’s appropriate and necessary to put our collective position on this matter forward and to seek a clear, unequivocal commitment from yourself and your party.
All of our communities have benefitted from the Federal Gas Tax initiative as amended to date. It provides certain, predictable long-term funding and allows local government significant discretion in how it is spent. Unfortunately, it is not sufficient to deal with our and the country’s needs. Other applicant-based infrastructure funds are generally unpredictable and are not long-term and sustainable. In some cases, these program processes have results that do not align with local governments’ priorities. In all cases, a process based upon project by project applications is the enemy of good fiscal planning to achieve efficiencies for the taxpayer.
All leaders at all levels of government want our economy to be strong and growing with the highest possible employment and productivity. The most significant contribution that local government can make is to ensure our towns and cities have advanced and well-maintained infrastructure that can efficiently move people, goods and information. Strong infrastructure is a magnet for international investments that, in today’s world, can and will go almost anywhere. The economy that can move its information, goods, services and people efficiently to market is the economy that can best meet the economic growth needs of its people. If we want the Canadian economy to grow significantly, we need to significantly increase our infrastructure’s capacity to move goods, services and people.
Additionally, lack of adequate federal funding for social housing represents not only a compelling social concern, but an economic one as well. Investments in housing are effective at stimulating economic growth and employment. For instance, it is estimated that each $1.00 increase in residential building construction investment generates an increase in overall GDP of $1.52 as the investment continues to cycle through the economy. To put it simply, investing in social housing is a true engine of growth.
Our municipal governments need a federal government that is a strong and reliable partner. We need long-term, sustainable, predictable and reliable federal funding which flows year in and year out and will allow us to eliminate our infrastructure deficit within a generation. We are pleased the topic is being discussed during the campaign and look forward to hearing the specific details of your party’s plans. We are of course willing to meet with you and fully detail our request at any mutually convenient time.
We are signing this letter on behalf of the mayors and chairs of all the municipalities listed on the front page who collectively represent some six million people resident in this region.
Roger Anderson, Regional Chair and CEO, Region of Durham
John Tory, Mayor, City of Toronto
A copy of this letter sent to federal party leaders by GTHA Mayors’ and Chairs can also be found at Halton.ca/advocacy.