For once, we’re not asking for more money: Don Iveson
When Canada’s big-city mayors sat down with members of the federal cabinet in Ottawa last week, there was a somewhat different tone to the discussions.
“We’re actually — for the first time in a long time — not here to ask for more money,” Edmonton’s mayor, Don Iveson, who also serves as chairman of the mayors’ caucus, said on this weekend’s edition of The West Block.
“We’ve actually got much of the commitment that we’ve been looking for over the past several years.”
Instead, with just around two weeks to go before the Liberals unveil their third federal budget, Iveson said the mayors have a relatively simple request: speed things up.
The Liberal government’s $180-billion commitment to infrastructure is a great thing, he said, and so is the 10-year, $40-billion national housing strategy released last year.
But timing is everything at the municipal level. Front-loading some of the funding before next year would be ideal, the mayors are arguing.
“For something like affordable housing, we can get to work on putting new windows and boilers and roofs on aging social housing structures that have needed this infusion of cash for decades,” Iveson explained.
“We made some very specific recommendations.”
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Overall, he added, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities maintains a strong lobby in Ottawa — and the federal government seems to be listening.
“So we generally feel heard, and it’s just an opportunity to see if we can tweak things to be a little bit better.”
As for the mayors coming to a consensus among themselves on what should be prioritized, Iveson maintained that it’s generally not a problem. There may be minor differences of interpretation or jurisdictional differences between the various provinces, “but when the mayors get together we really to bring a national vision.”
“To have a federal government that shares that vision … allows us to not trip over the fact that one mayor is building bus rapid-transit while another mayor is building rail-based transit … You find remarkable unity around the table.”
Watch the full interview with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson above.
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