Big city mayors calling for federal funding increases for critical infrastructure

At the most recent meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), there was a lot of attention given to the way funding is distributed by upper levels of government.

The group of Big City Mayors issued an urgent call for the federal government to invest in critical infrastructure. As municipalities struggle to meet demands for services, in particular, housing costs are increasingly being offloaded onto taxpayers.

A recent example is the proposed regional tax rate increase of 13 percent, facing ratepayers in Waterloo Region.

Kitchener Mayor and FCM member, Berry Vrbanovic told The Mike Farwell Show the model of funding, has remained virtually unchanged since 1867 and simply isn’t keeping up with modern issues facing communities.

“Revenues need to be linked to national population and economic growth,” he said. “There needs to be diverse, adequate and predictable sources of revenue that increase the autonomy and predictability for municipalities to deal with challenges.”

For example, the need to build more housing will also require the infrastructure to support those developments, like roads, wastewater and stormwater sewers and electricity. Not to mention, parks, community centres, hospitals and other critical services people depend on.

“Ultimately, we all just serve one taxpayer. So we need to ensure we find the best mix of tools and revenue sources that are going to enable us to do that work as effectively as possible,” Vrbanovic said.

The FCM believes the funding model needs to be adjusted to reflect the need of municipalities to address these critical issues, without placing the burden primarily on the taxpayer.

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