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Mayor Kelly Off to Ottawa to Press for Increased Federal Funding
(Friday, November 22/2002)-- Mayor Peter Kelly will be in Ottawa next week looking for detail about the Federal government's new infrastructure program; the impact the Kyoto Accord on the Halifax Regional Municipality and the growing need for federal funding on street/road maintenance and improved public transit, including commuter rail.
Mayor Kelly will be a member of the Big Cities Mayors' Caucus meeting with a number of Federal cabinet ministers in Ottawa on Monday and Tuesday. The visit is part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' pre-budget campaign to make the Chretien government more aware of the financial needs of Canadian municipalities.
The Mayor said he is particularly interested in obtaining firm information about how the new 10-year, multi-billion dollar Infrastructure Fund will be used; what municipal projects will be eligible; the cost-sharing arrangements and any other details that will enable HRM to lever federal funds for projects, such as Harbour Solutions, and other major capital projects in the future.
The Big Cities Mayors will also be seeking information about Canadian government's view on the Kyoto Accord and what effect the agreement will have on municipalities.
Mayor Kelly said if HRM is to significantly reduce fossil fuel gas emissions, there must be Federal and provincial funding available to improve the existing Metro Transit system, as well as looking to other transportation options such as water transport and commuter rail.
"If we are to convince the motoring public to put aside their vehicles and use public transit, we have to make the service frequent, attractive and convenient. We can't do this unless we have funding from the other levels of government, " he said.
The Big Cities Mayors will also be pressing the Chretien government for a share of the federal tax on gasoline so that municipalities can use the revenue for street and road construction and maintenance.
Mayor Kelly said "The larger municipalities, in particular cannot continue on the present course. There are more and more demands each year for road improvements, yet the federal government, as well as the Nova Scotia government, reap all of the benefits of the Gasoline Tax. Property tax dollars are used to maintain roads, while Ottawa and the province are drowning in taxes from the fuels used to keep the cars and trucks rolling along our road network."
Among the Ministers the delegation will be meeting with are: Industry Minister Allan Rock; Environment Minister David Anderson; Transport Minister David Collenette; Finance Minister John Manley; Immigration Minister Denis Coderre; and MP Judy Sgro, the Prime Minister's Caucus Task Force on Urban Issues.
Mayor Peter Kelly