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Tory hopes to tackle transit and social housing with federal infrastructure minister

Tory hopes to tackle transit and social housing with federal infrastructure minister - image
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

TORONTO –Mayor John Tory says he is pleased with the newly formed partnership with federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi, and says he looks forward to taking on challenges, particularly in the areas of transit and social housing.

Wednesday’s meeting was a chance for both the minister and the mayor to get acquainted, but Tory said it didn’t take long to catch Sohi up on existing municipal challenges, as the minister comes from a background in municipal politics, previously serving as city councillor in Edmonton.

“I would say the bottom line of this meeting to me is [that] Mr. Sohi … [he] gets it,” Tory said.
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“He gets the fact that we have these needs. He wants to be our partner, we want us to be his partner and now the hard work begins.”

In the meeting, Tory said Sohi made mention that money for social housing from infrastructure funds will be considered in the short term.

“This has been one of our number one priorities and one of our most urgent priorities,” Tory said.

Toronto is currently face a social housing crisis, with Toronto Community Housing needing billions of dollars to spend on repairs.

READ MORE: Toronto Community Housing tackles massive repair backlog

Since he was selected to fill the role of minister of infrastructure and communities, Sohi said he has made it his goal to reach out to partners – both municipally and provincially.

“This is visit … is to convey to the mayor … that federal government is here as a equal partner in building strong sustainable communities,” he said.

Sohi added that the federal government has put forward an ambitious agenda that would see $60 billion in additional money allotted to public transportation, social infrastructure and green infrastructure.

READ MORE: Liberals promise additional $60 billion over next decade for infrastructure, public transit

“But we cannot build strong sustainable communities without partnerships and those partnerships are critical,” he said.

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“Municipalities play a prominent role when it comes to building communities that we all desire to live in.”

The federal government promised $20 billion in social infrastructure, but Sohi said they still need to undergo the budgeting process which will be completed in March.

At that time, the minister added it will be his intention to get that money to communities “as quickly as possible.”

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