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Halifax Mayor Welcomes Martin Commitment to Share Gas Tax
(WINNIPEG, MAN., Thursday, May 29/2003)-- Mayor Peter Kelly may have gotten his wish today.
Liberal Party of Canada leadership candidate Paul Martin gave a commitment that if he is elected leader and becomes Prime Minister, he is willing to consider sharing a portion of the federal Gas Tax with Canadian municipalities.
Mayor Kelly, of the Halifax Regional Municipality, participated in a panel discussion this morning regarding Canada's crumbling infrastructure crisis during a meeting of the Creative Cities Coalition in Winnipeg. The meeting was held prior to a meeting of the FCM Big City Mayors' tomorrow and the start of the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) here.
Mr. Martin told municipal leaders at the meeting this morning "The new deal will give our cities an open door to Ottawa. It will allow our cities to have more predictable revenues, starting by looking at better ways to share the revenues from the Gas Tax. The next decade is about change, change that inevitably will end up, in no small part, on the steps of City Hall."
Mayor Kelly delegates "During the past five years, 12,500 new houses have been built in HRM. By the year 2026, we will increase our population by an additional 100,000 people, for a total of 459,000 residents. Imagine the strains and demands this will put on our existing transportation infrastructure? These facts literally scream out for expansion of our transportation system."
For the past two years, Mayor Kelly has been pressing the Federal government directly, and indirectly through the Big City Mayors' Caucus and the FCM, for a share of the Gas Tax. These new sources of revenue would help Canadian municipalities not only maintain existing infrastructure, but to meet the demands of new infrastructure brought about by unprecedented growth.
More than 80 per cent of Canadians live in urban areas and see proof everyday of crumbling infrastructure. The FCM estimates the infrastructure deficit-- the gap between what needs to be fixed and the money to pay for it-- is $57 billion.
Mayor Kelly said that if municipalities were to receive 5-cents of the Federal government's 10-cent per litre portion of the Gas Tax, that would translate into $2.5 billion in new revenues for municipalities across Canada.
In the case of Halifax Regional Municipality, that share of the Gas Tax would amount to between $32 million and $40 million in new revenues annually. Mayor Kelly said those funds could be directed towards road maintenance and construction; enhanced transit service; and for implementing new transportation pilot projects, such as commuter rail and improved harbour ferry service.
The Creative Cities Coalition is dedicated to developing a national strategy to ensure that Canadian cities are vibrant, dynamic, engaging places in which to live and prosper. It brings together Mayors and other municipal officials with leaders in business, labour and community groups.
Mayor Peter Kelly