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February 11, 2003
Federal budget must invest in Canada's cities
The City of Toronto is calling on the Prime Minister of Canada to ensure the
federal budget delivers much needed investment to help revitalize Canada's
cities - the economic engines of the country.

Canada's cities face big challenges - like poverty, housing, air quality,
traffic congestion and crime - but they lack the tools and authority to deal
with them.

The City of Toronto was encouraged by the September 2002 Throne Speech
commitment to a ten-year urban infrastructure project for Canada's cities. The
government must now follow up on the need for long-term, sustainable, and
predictable funding in the federal budget. This is especially critical for such
areas as public transit, transportation and affordable housing.

"It is time for the federal government to deal directly with cities on matters
of mutual interest," said Mayor Mel Lastman. "Federal programs that rely solely
on provincial government goodwill and have strings attached that prevent cities
from accessing the funding don't help us."

The Prime Minister's Caucus Task Force on Urban Issues has also clearly
articulated the need for:
· National Affordable Housing Program that will provide an effective and more
sustainable means of increasing the supply of affordable housing
· National Transit/Transportation Program as an area of long-term national
· Long-term National Sustainable Infrastructure Program

As noted in a recent study of opinions and attitudes of residents in Canada's
seven largest cities - Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto Ottawa
and Montreal - there are significant levels of public anxiety regarding the
current state of civic infrastructure. Research by Cameron Strategy Inc. of
Calgary and Probe Research Inc. of Winnipeg shows that 70 per cent believe the
need for increased infrastructure investment is urgent to prevent a decline in
overall quality of life. A large majority supports finding ways other than
property taxes to fund city infrastructure and services, such as dedicating
portions of federal and provincial gas or sales taxes to specific public

"The federal government has an opportunity to take a leadership role in solving
the most serious obstacles to Canada's success in the 21st century," said Mayor
Lastman. "Canada's cities shouldn't have to wait any longer for the support
they need to compete with cities in the United States and Europe."

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