NEWS

Big city mayors talk housing, infrastructure, Canada Post

02/26/2014 05:43 EST | Updated 04/28/2014 05:59 EDT
The mayors from Canada's largest cities gathered in Ottawa on Wednesday to call on the federal government to pony up more cash for housing and infrastructure funding, while raising concerns about the decision by Canada Post to end urban home mail delivery.

"Today, the big city mayors are calling on the federal government to take practical steps to build stronger cities and a stronger economy," Gregor Robertson, the mayor of Vancouver and chair of the big city mayors caucus told reporters gathered at Ottawa city hall.

"We are concerned that high housing costs and transportation gridlock are preventing our cities from reaching their full potential."

The mayors spent an hour this afternoon meeting with Candice Bergen, the federal minister of state for social development.

Robertson said the mayors would stress to Bergen the importance of preserving federal housing dollars in next year's budget.

Infrastructure funds in focus

The federal government's key infrastructure plan was also be a main topic of discussion as numerous questions remain on how the federal funds will be used to meet local needs.

"The last federal budget was a big disappointment," Robertson said.

Ottawa recently announced the details of a 10-year, $14-billion New Building Canada Fund designed to provide both small and large communities with predictable infrastructure funding. Of that, $10 billion has been earmarked to fund provincial and territorial infrastructure projects. 

Under the new plan, Ontario will receive $2.7 billion over 10 years from Ottawa, the most federal dollars of any province. Quebec will receive $1.7 billion and British Columbia just over $1 billion over 10 years under the new plan.​

Robertson said the mayors are calling on both the federal and provincial government to "guarantee" that the lion's share of the new infrastructure fund goes to cities for local projects.

The mayors said they are also concerned about the changes recently brought in by Canada Post, which they say they weren't consulted about.

In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for Mayor Watson said he passed a resolution calling on Canada Post to "halt the elimination of door-to-door delivery until concerns are addressed through meaningful consultations with municipalities."

Another resolution also urged Canada Post "not to download the costs and maintenance of community mailboxes onto municipalities," Watson's office told CBC News in an email.

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