BRITISH COLUMBIA

Rob Ford Misses Mayors' Conference, Justin Trudeau Attends

06/02/2013 01:33 EDT | Updated 06/03/2013 04:56 EDT

Rob Ford may not be in Vancouver for the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference taking place this weekend, but his name is on everybody's lips, CTV reported.

“It’s a topic of conversation because it’s like watching a train wreck and you never know what’s going to happen next,” Senator and former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell told CTV. “Mayor Ford obviously has some significant problems and he's going to have to deal with them."

Another prominent Canadian politician has made the trip out west, however. The leader of the federal Liberal Party, JustinTrudeau, will be delivering a speech to the federation Sunday morning, before meeting with the public at the Granville Island market, News 1130 reported.

During Saturday's conference, Denis Lebel, the federal minister of transport, infrastructure and communities, said that by next spring provinces, municipalities and territories will begin rebuilding Canada’s aging infrastructure, with the help of $53 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years, the Vancouver Sun reported.

“You asked for more funding. We gave you $53 billion across those 10 years,” Lebel told hundreds of delegates at the conference.

The Big City Mayors' Caucus met Thursday in Vancouver, ahead of the annual meeting emerging with an invitation for their provincial and federal counterparts to meet and address the problem of housing affordability.

"Housing affordability is putting home ownership outside of the reach of many Canadians, and we need to think hard about what that means in terms of what policies can we do to support housing affordability, how can we stimulate new rental housing, as well a what we do about existing social housing," said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

"We need to start working with the federal government and our provincial governments on a national view of housing."

The average price of a new home more than doubled from 2001 to 2010, the mayors pointed out.

Just 10 per cent of new residential construction in the past 15 years has been dedicated rental housing, yet 32 per cent of Canadians live in rental units, according to the federation.

Saskatchewan needs 6,500 to 7,000 new housing starts a year to meet demand and attract workers, the group said, and Metro Vancouver needs an estimated 6,000.

With files from The Canadian Press

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