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Atlantic Mayors Demand Federal Action
(Halifax, April 12/08) Eighteen mayors from across Atlantic Canada wrapped up the spring meeting of the Atlantic Mayors' Congress (AMC) in Halifax Regional Municipality today with appeals to the federal government to act on several wide-ranging issues.
The Mayors will ask the federal government to rethink new national wastewater standards, ban handguns, increase border security, and create a national airline passenger bill of rights. The AMC also called on federal and provincial governments to extend natural gas availability to municipalities throughout the region, including Northern New Brunswick.
"We had a very productive few days, with lively discussion and debate on issues that were raised by mayors from different provinces, but that ultimately affect the entire region," said HRM Mayor Peter Kelly, who chairs the AMC. "The AMC is an ideal venue for us to get everyone's unique perspective, then reach a consensus and gain some of the strength that comes with presenting a united front."
New national wastewater standards were one of the hottest topics of this AMC session, prompting the mayors to request that the federal government reconsider the new sweeping standards, which could have devastating financial impacts for municipalities.
Public safety and security were also top concerns for the mayors. Supporting a campaign initiated by Toronto Mayor David Miller, the AMC recommended that the federal government ban handguns in Canada and strengthen measures to limit smuggling of handguns from the United States.
"Even though Atlantic Canadian municipalities would not see the level of handgun violence that larger cities have to deal with, we all agree that handguns are a national problem that needs to be addressed now," said Mayor Kelly. "With the use of guns in violent crimes increasing among our youth, we need decisive action to limit access to these dangerous weapons."
The AMC supported a motion of Deputy Mayor Norah Davidson-Wright of Fredericton, who called for more customs and border security in Atlantic Airports to handle recent increases in international flight traffic to the region.
The AMC also supported Conception Bay South Mayor Woodrow French's request to push for a national airline passenger bill of rights. The request was prompted by the plight of thousands of travellers who were stranded in Atlantic Canadian airports during Christmas 2007. The bill would require airlines to reschedule stranded passengers as quickly as possible and take better care of those stuck on runways for several hours, among other measures. A similar bill has been adopted in the European Union.
The Atlantic Mayors' Congress comprises the mayors of larger municipalities throughout New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The AMC meets twice per year; the next Congress will be held in fall 2008 in Fredericton New Brunswick.
Resolutions from the current April 2008 AMC meetings are attached.
Mayor Peter Kelly
Federal Wastewater Standards:
Whereas, municipalities support a high standard of treatment for wastewater in order to protect and preserve the environment and many have undertaken expansion and improvements to wastewater treatment at a considerable expense; and
Whereas, the Government of Canada is introducing new standards that will require further expenditure for municipalities to meet these standards; and
Whereas a Risk Based Management approach recognizes the assimilative capacity of the receiving waters and sets the 'end-of-pipe' discharge parameters accordingly; and
Whereas, the intention of sewage treatment is to lessen the environmental impacts of effluent and the impact depends on the receiving water body, a complete approach to Risk Based Management; and
Whereas, treating all sewage to an arbitrary minimum level without considering the impacts and capacity would be a waste of resources; and
Whereas, a risk-based approach is consistent with other federal programs; and
Whereas, the proposed new standards do not recognize the assimilative capacity of the receiving waters and therefore force undue resource pressure on effected municipalities.
Therefore, Be it Resolved That:
- The AMC supports a risk based management approach to the discharge of wastewater, with no minimum standards; and
- The AMC will communicate this position to Municipal Associations, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the respective provincial governments and the government of Canada; and
- If the standards are to proceed, AMC will work collaboratively with Municipal associations, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and provincial governments to ensure that federal funding to municipalities to execute the standards is included as part of the implementation strategy to enable all regions to comply; and
Further be Resolved:
That the appropriate capital funding requirements will be addressed by a funding strategy which recognizes the relative capacity of the three levels of government in an affordable and sustainable manner; and
That a specific federal based program be developed for the CCME National Wastewater Standards initiative; and
We further call upon the federal and provincial governments in designing and developing this funding strategy that it not only address the capital cost requirements but the operating cost requirements as well.
Enhanced Customs Staff
Whereas customs and border security stations at Atlantic airports are the responsibility of the federal government; and
Whereas increased traffic, passengers and flights at Atlantic Airports require enhancement of services; and
Whereas the federal government was scheduled to deliver its report examining staffing requirements at entry points across Canada by late 2007, and has not done so
Be it Resolved that the Atlantic Mayors Congress urge the federal Department of Transportation to immediately fund additional customs staff to support all international flights.
Whereasnatural gas is a fuel considered important to the advancement of industrial development in North America, and
Whereasnatural gas can be an attactive fuel option in an era of rising energy costs, and
Whereas natural gas is available to much of Atlantic Canada by way of LNG facilities and exciting natural gas discoveries in our region, and
Whereas Atlantic Canada is eager to enhance its position as a strong economic generator in our country
BE IT RESOLVED that the Atlantic Mayors Congress recommend to the federal and provincial governments the desirability of having natural gas available to all prospective customers in Atlantic Canada, including, but not limited to the regions of Miramichi, Gloucester, and Restigouche in Northern New Brunswick.
Control of Hand Guns in Canada
WHEREAS Mayor David Miller and the City of Toronto have resolved to approach the government of Canada to ask for a ban of hand guns and they have initiated a national petition regarding the control of hand guns which is available at http://wx.toronto.ca/handgunban.nsf/petition and provided at this same website the current research to support the banning of handguns; and
WHEREAS Mayor Miller has asked for support from all Canadian mayors and municipalities; and
WHEREAS the Atlantic Mayors' Congress is committed to public safety and safer streets for all Canadians; and
WHEREAS handguns pose a serious threat to public safety by perpetuating violence through use in homicides, domestic violence and other violent crimes; and
WHEREAS handguns contribute to a number of injuries, accidental deaths and suicides; and
WHEREAS crimes committed with handguns cause considerable pain and suffering for victims and their families; and
WHEREAS the indiscriminate use of handguns in crimes creates instability in neighbourhoods and contributes to public fear in communities; and
WHEREAS Canada ranks fifth among industrialized countries in the rate of firearm deaths among children under 141 and the use of guns in violent crimes is increasing among youth2; and
WHEREAS that in addition to guns that are smuggled to Canada from the United States, one of the major sources of illegal handguns is the theft of legally owned guns.
BE IT RESOLVED that the Atlantic Mayors' Congress ask the Government of Canada to take immediate action to ban the sale and purchase of handguns other than for legitimate law enforcement services; and
to enact tougher crime legislation for illegal handgun use; and
to strengthen border security to prevent handguns from being smuggled into Canada; and
to convince the Government of the United States to increase gun controls within its jurisdiction; and
to encourage all citizens to sign the petition sponsored by the City of Toronto; and
to create a comprehensive strategy to address the impacts of gun violence.
National AirLine Passenger Bill of Rights
WHEREAS airline travel is an essential element of the national transportation system, with millions of Canadian relying on it for the effective transaction of business; and
WHEREAS our national competitveness in the globally integrated economy is closely linked to the level to which the airline travel systems effectively serves its customers; and
WHEREAS many regions of the country rely on air travel as their primary link to the rest of the country and deserve a service provided with effective communications, recourse when the service is not provided and dignity in the face of trying circumstances; and
WHEREAS it has been demonstrated that current airline industry regulations do not provide paying customers with sufficient protection from, nor compensation for, the decisions of airlines even when those decisions result in extreme inconvenience, added expenses and lost revenue/wages for passengers; and
WHEREAS the European Union has adopted an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights with no negative impact on the airline industry and the United States Senate are in the process of doing the same; therefore
BE IT RESOLVED that the Atlantic Mayors' Congress lobby the federal government to direct Transport Canada to prepare a National Airline Passenger Bill of Rights to be adopted into legislation by the Parliament of Canada.
Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador