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October 22, 2001
Canada's Big City Mayors launch campaign to give urban Canada "21st century" powers
  
TORONTO, October 21, 2001 - Cities across the country today launched Canada's
Cities: Unleash our Potential, a positive national campaign to promote the
urgent need for the federal, provincial and municipal governments to work
together to give Canada's cities the tools and resources they need to compete
with other world cities. The cities of Vancouver, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Toronto,
Ottawa and Halifax made the announcement at a meeting of the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities' Big City Mayors' Caucus.

Citizens and cities are encouraged to get involved in this campaign. One way
to do that is through the campaign's Web site, www.canadascities.ca, where
citizens can find more information, register their support, and send an email
to their elected representatives. Each city participating in the Canada's
Cities campaign will promote its message at the local level, and in discussions
with its provincial government. At the federal level, the mayors will work
closely with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to address the urgent
need for cities to gain the tools and resources they need.

"Canada's cities have 21st century challenges, but we're still governed by a
19th century model that makes us almost completely dependent on the provinces,"
said the official representative of the City of Toronto, Councillor David
Miller. "The British North America Act was great in 1867 - but in 2001 we need
the power and resources to tackle issues like poverty, housing, air quality,
traffic congestion and crime. Change is inevitable - and we urge the federal
and provincial governments to work with us to unleash the potential of Canada's
cities."

While the solution may vary from city to city, one promising model is to create
modern legislative charters - i.e., legislation that give cities powers and
resources that match their responsibilities. An effective charter would:

¨ Get governments working together: It's time to give cities a seat at the
table when Ottawa or the provinces are discussing matters that affect them like
affordable housing, immigration and transit. It's only fair - and it would make
the country work better.
¨ Attract business & create jobs: Many world cities have broad powers to
attract business with tax incentives and credits - and to enter into
partnerships that involve the private sector in major infrastructure projects.
By giving Canada's cities these powers, we would create more jobs.
¨ Reduce bureaucracy: By giving our major cities greater powers to act with
respect to local matters, they won't have to ask the province to pass a law
when they need to get something done. The result? We'd save time and money.
¨ Clarify responsibility & promote accountability: If it's strictly a local
matter, the city should be responsible - not the province. That sounds logical?
but that's not the way it is today.

"People are tired of the endless bickering between different levels of
government. So are we," said Jack Layton, president of the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities. "It's time for everyone to stop pointing fingers - and
instead to point the way to a new relationship that makes Canada's cities both
healthier and wealthier."

A list of the participants in today's announcement is attached.

Media Contact: Kevin Sack, City of Toronto (416) 397-5277
Curtis O'Nyon, Federation of Canadian Municipalities (613) 294-2757

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS


Mayor Bob Chiarelli
City of Ottawa

Mayor Peter Kelly
Halifax Regional Municipality

President Jack Layton
Federation Canadian Municipalities

Mayor James Maddin
City of Saskatoon

Councillor David Miller
City of Toronto

Mayor Glen Murray
City of Winnipeg

Mayor Philip Owen
City of Vancouver

BACKGROUNDER
October 21, 2001

The Canada's Cities campaign is about building stronger cities and a stronger
Canada.

Cities in Canada: Quick facts

¨ There are 42 cities in Canada with populations of over 100,000
¨ 80% of Canadians live in cities
¨ Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver alone attract 74.4% of immigrants to Canada
¨ Cities are the wealth of the nation, in 2000:

· Toronto accounted for 44% of Ontario's GDP
· Vancouver accounted for 53% of British Columbia's GDP
· Montreal accounted for 49% of Quebec's GDP
· Winnipeg accounted for 67% of Manitoba's GDP
· Calgary and Edmonton combined accounted for 64% Alberta's GDP

In the 5 year period beginning at 1995, total revenues to local government
increased only 6%. During the same period, revenue to the federal government
increased 21% and to provincial governments by 13%. As the urban population
grew at a rate of 6% during this period - Canada's municipal governments are
barely keeping pace.

Despite 21st century challenges, cities are still governed by a model developed
in the British North America Act, when large cities were practically
non-existent.

¨ The British North America Act, 1867 (and continued in the Constitution Act,
1982) gives the provinces exclusive control over cities and other
municipalities.
¨ The powers a city possesses depend almost entirely on the powers the province
wishes to grant.
¨ Municipalities in some provinces operate under "laundry list" legislation:
their governing legislation spells out every power. If it's not on the list,
the city can't do it.
¨ A province can, at will, take away or change any municipal power previously
granted.
¨ Given the provinces' exclusive control over municipalities, the power of the
federal government to deal directly with municipalities is limited.

What's needed now

Residents expect their city governments to tackle local challenges efficiently
and effectively. To meet this expectation, cities need the authority and
ability to create flexible, innovative solutions to local concerns with a
minimum of red tape and bureaucracy.

¨ Cities need greater legislative powers.
¨ Cities need access to sufficient, suitable and sustainable revenue sources to
meet their responsibilities. For example, most cities do not have the power to
mortgage an asset in order to raise money.
¨ The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has proposed a ten-point action
plan for sustainable communities. This plan calls for an intergovernmental
framework that embraces municipal governments as partners and recognizes their
primary role in improving the quality of life of Canadians.

City charter: much smarter!

One solution that's gaining acceptance is to create new charters for Canada's
largest cities - customized laws that give them powers that match their
responsibilities and needs. A charter would:
¨ Give cities the power to attract business with tax incentives and credits.
¨ Allow cities to enter into partnerships that involve the private sector.
¨ Give cities a seat at the table when Ottawa or the provinces are discussing
matters that affect them.
¨ Permit cities to enact local legislation, so they don't have to ask the
province to pass a law every time they need to get something done.
¨ Give cities "natural person" powers, allowing them to enter into contracts,
raise money and do many other things not currently possible.

Cities play a unique role in Canada. They're where most Canadians live and
work. They're the economic engines of our nation. That's why stronger cities
mean a stronger Canada.

To find out more about the campaign to unleash the potential of Canada's
cities, visit www.canadascities.ca.


Media Contact
Access Toronto
416-338-0338

 

 

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