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Big City Mayors Support Mayor Kelly’s Call for Wastewater Regulations Funding

(Toronto, May 27, 2010) –The leaders of Canada’s 22 largest cities have thrown their support behind a resolution by Mayor Peter Kelly of the Halifax Regional Municipality, calling on Ottawa and the provinces to help fund the staggering cost of implementing looming new national wastewater regulations.

Mayor Kelly introduced the resolution during today’s meeting here of the Big City Mayors´ Caucus (BCMC). In thanking the other mayors for their support, he expressed optimism that both senior governments would share the anticipated financial burden equally with municipalities.
“History shows that this country works best when all three levels of government cooperate for the common good,” said Mayor Kelly. “We have enjoyed much goodwill and cooperation lately and I have every confidence this partnership will continue, enabling us to reach a fair solution to the onerous financial burden represented by the new wastewater strategy.”

Mayor Kelly noted that, without a cost-shared funding plan, the new wastewater standards will add more than 10 per cent to Canada’s $123-billion municipal infrastructure deficit and increase water and wastewater charges for hundreds of thousands of households and small businesses, most still recovering from the recession. In HRM alone, the extra cost could run as high as $2 billion.

The new, more stringent wastewater treatment standards were agreed to earlier this year by Ottawa and the provinces. The new regulations also set standards for combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows, which would mean extensive work to bring older parts of Halifax and Dartmouth into compliance.

The support for Mayor Kelly’s call for a continued inter-governmental financial partnership reflected the mood of the delegates attending the Big City Mayors´ Caucus.

According to Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr, chair of the caucus, as the federal government gets closer to ending its two-year Economic Action Plan, it needs a new partnership with municipalities to prevent growing national challenges from turning back recent gains in cities and derailing the country's long-term economic recovery.

"Ten months from now Ottawa is going to turn off the stimulus taps,” said Mayor Zehr, ”but it needs to expand that underlying partnership so we can solve problems that crisscross political boundaries and affect Canadians living in every single part of the country.”

Mayor Zehr said recent federal investments, including the gas tax transfer, the GST rebate and the Building Canada Fund, are helping municipalities repair some of the damage done to cities by decades of offloading and underinvestment. The stimulus plan delivered a one-time boost to those investments, and more importantly, brought all governments together to fight the recession.
"We applaud the government for protecting core investments in our communities from budget cuts, but beyond that Ottawa has gone quiet on its relationship with cities,” said Zehr. "That needs to change."

Despite recent gains, municipalities are still forced to rely on a broken 19th century property tax system to meet 21st century challenges - and those challenges are growing.

"Traffic congestion is choking our largest cities, damaging our economy and environment, and hurting the Canadian-brand in the global competition to attract green jobs and investment" said Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay.

"For more and more Canadians, cities are the new social safety net, helping them get to and from work, and find affordable housing, childcare and after school programs" said Toronto Mayor David Miller. "It shouldn't take an economic crisis to get governments working together to meet these challenges, and we can't afford to waste any more time working apart."

The mayors called on all federal parties, and all provincial and territorial governments, to work with municipalities to set clear and measurable policy objectives in areas of shared jurisdiction, beginning at the January, 2011, National Infrastructure Summit in Regina; and to protect and expand investments in these areas as governments reduce their budget deficits.

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Contact:


Mayor Peter Kelly
(902) - 222 – 9999 (cell)

 

 

 

Above content last modified Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 8:49am.