October 22, 2015 1:16 am
Updated: October 22, 2015 9:08 am

Mayors Iveson and Nenshi discuss city issues at Edmonton lecture

WATCH ABOVE: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson spoke about issues facing big cities at a lecture in Edmonton Wednesday. Shallima Maharaj was there.

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EDMONTON – Fresh off a federal election that saw the country’s leadership shift from blue to red, the mayors of Alberta’s two largest cities took the stage at the University of Alberta to discuss their vision for the future of Canadian cities.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson spoke in front of a packed auditorium of about 680 people Wednesday night at the University of Alberta’s annual Hurtig Lecture.

Their message? The need for attention to be paid to growing Canadian cities.

“Despite our national stories and myths involving mountains and rivers and moose, maple trees that don’t grow in most of the country, beavers, Canada is actually one of the most urbanized countries in the world,” said Nenshi, who anticipates by 2050, 86 per cent of the developed world will live in cities.

Both Iveson and Nenshi highlighted the need for more affordable housing, public transportation investment, infrastructure development and thinking about cities in a global context. They both plan to hold the new government accountable for its promises.

“Let’s just put it this way, if you visit my website at citiesmatter.ca, you will see that our new prime minister-designate designate has made a number of very large promises,” said Nenshi. “Don and I have that printed out and we’re going to spend a lot of time making sure that they live up to those promises.”

“Local governments have the social licence, they have the trust of the people. Not all the time. Not every bridge goes up perfect, not every LRT line turns on on time,” Iveson said, getting a chuckle from the crowd.

READ MORE: Mayor Don Iveson confident election results bode well for Edmonton

Amarjeet Sohi, who won the Edmonton Mill Woods seat for the Liberal Party, was also in the crowd. He said he’s excited about what the next four years will bring.

“The things that we’re proposing to do are immediate, such as investment into public transportation, affordable housing, or giving a seven per cent tax reduction to middle class families which will actually help with some of the challenges,” he said.

Iveson pointed out that municipalities often have to do more with less.

“We have eight cents of your dollar. Sometimes six. Fifteen if you count all of the transfers or ways in which other orders of government fund back to municipalities,” he said. “But in terms of the tax dollars, what we actually collect is between six and eight cents across the country, so Canadians are overestimating by a factor of three or four how much money our local governments have and they still think we’re the most responsible with it?

“They think we have four times the resources we have to deliver the services and the infrastructure that we do, and they think we’re the most efficient at it. So give us the other 20 cents and then see what we can do.”

The environment was also on the mayors’ radar, with Iveson voicing his high hopes for the forthcoming climate change conference in Paris.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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