As a prelude to FCM’s annual conference and expo this week, the  Big City Mayor’s Caucus (BCMC) held a press conference yesterday to talk about how Canadian governments can tackle the infrastructure deficit. In a word: partnerships. The  mayors called for partnership among all three levels of government.

Caucus Chair and mayor of Kitchener Carl Zehr called Canadian cities “urban economic engines;” the front-line of projects funded by the federal government’s stimulus funding.

“We shouldn’t have to wait for an economic crisis to get governments to work together,” he said.

Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson spoke of a partnership between municipal and federal governments during the Winter Olympics. Their combined efforts helped bring tens of millions of dollars of foreign investment into the city.

When it comes to the federal and city governments teaming up, Robertson said there needs to be a “systemic approach instead of one-offs.”

With the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund reaching its deadline in March 2011, the mayors spoke of creating a more permanent arrangement where municipalities have a greater role in decision-making.

Zehr called the national infrastructure summit in Regina (see Mira Shenker’s editor’s note in our May/June 2010 issue for more details) in January 2011 the “first step” in creating an intergovernmental solution to the infrastructure deficit.

Mayor Gérald Tremblay of Montreal emphasized the role cities can play in solving the problem. “We’re not asking – we’re part of the solution. It’s time to realize the responsibilities of all three levels of government and allocate funds accordingly.”


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