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Atlantic Mayors Send Strong Message to Ottawa, Provinces
(HALIFAX--Friday, April 25/2003)-- The Atlantic Mayors' Congress sent a strong message to the Federal government and the provinces today-- municipalities must be an equal partner and part of the decision-making process in all national infrastructure programs.
Mayor Peter Kelly, at the end of the first of two days of deliberations in Halifax, said billions of dollars are required for municipal infrastructure projects across the country and the federal government cannot continue to defer to provincial priorities only in deciding which projects to fund.
Mayor Kelly, speaking on behalf of the 15 Atlantic Mayors attending the conference, said "the Federal government , in particular, has to step up to the plate with sustainable and predictable programs with adequate funding to address the current crisis in the battle to replace or repair existing infrastructure, as well as meet the growing need to provide new infrastructure due to unprecedented new growth."
Representatives of both the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Infrastructure Canada attended the afternoon session and made brief presentations regarding recent Federal infrastructure programs. The federal official gathered municipal feedback about the infrastructure programs and will take the Mayors' comments back to Ottawa for consideration by the Minister of Infrastructure Canada Allan Rock.
Mayor Kelly said the Atlantic Mayors believe infrastructure programs must be flexible and municipalities should be able to deal directly with the federal government regarding their priorities, if the provinces choose to put forward their priorities only.
"If the provinces don't want to cost-share in a particular project, that will be their decision. However, they should not be allowed to dictate to the Federal government what projects will be funded and which ones won't--- based on their own priorities only. There must be an alignment of Federal, provincial and municipal priorities under these programs if Canada is to move forward, " he said.
The Mayors said the Federal government must recognize that four out of five Canadians live in urban centres today and municipalities can longer depend solely on property taxation to raise necessary revenues.
Mayor Kelly said there was also a feeling among representatives of smaller cities and rural municipalities that their needs were being overlooked, and by the time large scale
provincial projects and big city priorities were considered, there was nothing left in the
Federal infrastructure programs to address their needs.
The Mayors will continue their deliberations tomorrow (Saturday) morning in Council Chambers, Halifax City Hall, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Mayor Peter Kelly
Chair, Atlantic Mayors Congress
Corporate Communications Officer
902) 490-4044 (fax)