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January 23, 2004
Mayors to Federal and Provincial Governments: Fulfill Commitment to Canada's Cities Now
  
Developing solutions for the financial and legislative challenges facing
Canada's economic hub cities was the goal of the Mayors' Summit chaired by
Toronto Mayor David Miller today. Mayors and representatives of Canada's major
hub cities agreed on a set of recommendations for immediate action and for
stronger partnerships with the federal and provincial governments. The final
communiqué from the meeting calls for specific items to be included in the 2004
throne speech and federal budget, and also lays out the makings of a "new deal."

In the 2004 federal throne speech and budget:

1. Rebating 100% of the GST paid by municipalities and their agencies;

2. Accelerating the $2 billion investment in urban infrastructure through
existing programs;

And, by the end of 2004, a new deal through partnership agreements:

3. Provide cities with a new net revenue source, based on the user-pay
principle, of five cents per litre from the existing federal fuel excise tax;

4. Allow cities to address their priorities and invest in economic growth by
retaining a share of locally-generated tax revenues that grow with the economy,
such as income tax and/or federal and provincial sales tax revenue;

5. Match or exceed the average level of US and Western European governments'
investment in municipal transit and transportation infrastructure;

6. Involve major hub cities as partners in federal and provincial policy,
program and budget deliberations on issues that have a direct impact on major
urban centres;

7. Introduce flexibility and improve the delivery and supply of existing
affordable housing programs to focus on serving the needs of Canadians;

8. Make regulatory changes to support cities - for example, amending the income
tax act to make employer-provided transit passes a tax-exempt benefit, or
converting the Commercial Heritage Properties Incentive Fund to a tax credit
program.

The full communiqué is available at the end of this news release.

Mayor Miller called the meeting to discuss the shared concerns of Canada's hub
cities, and to develop a collective approach to federal and provincial
governments.

"The success of our cities is a barometer of Canada's quality of life," said
Mayor Miller. "We all agree that action is needed now to ensure that we have
the money and the tools necessary to keep cities strong. The country's economic
competitiveness depends on it," stated Mayor Miller.

Mayors and representatives at the meeting were:

Councillor Jim Green - Vancouver
Mayor Bob Chiarelli - Ottawa
Mayor Bill Smith - Edmonton
Mayor Gérald Tremblay - Montréal
Mayor Pat Fiacco - Regina
Councillor Jacques Jobin - Quebec City
Mayor Glen Murray - Winnipeg
Mayor Peter Kelly - Halifax
Mayor David Miller - Toronto

The mayors have agreed to continue working together. They will participate in a
new National Forum on Economic Growth to be held in Montréal in spring 2004,
which the FCM Big City Mayors will participate in and to which the federal and
provincial governments will be invited. They will also meet again in Toronto in
the fall of 2004.



COMMUNIQUE

Canada Needs Competitive Hub Cities

Canada's Major Hub Cities: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg,
Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax are dynamic centres of
economic, social and cultural development.

These cities and their regions generate 50% of Canada's GDP.

These cities are Canada's signature to the world. They are home to 88% of
Canada's recent immigrants, a majority of Canada's Metis and First Nations
people, and host to almost all of the foreign consular presence in Canada. The
success of Canada's major hub cities is important for all Canadians:

The wealth generated in Canada's major hub cities underpins the high quality of
life deserved by all Canadians. In a highly competitive global economy,
Canada's future prosperity will be determined in the nation's major hub cities.

Canada's major hub cities face a common challenge:

Canada's major hub cities do not have the fiscal resources and provincial
legislative tools needed to fulfil their responsibilities. The environmental
sustainability and quality of life in these cities - and the nation's economic
competitiveness - depend on overcoming this challenge. Our objective is not to
increase the overall tax burden of Canadians. Rather, it is to ensure that
Canadian cities retain a fair share of the existing tax revenues their
communities generate. Compared to large urban centres in the US, Europe and
elsewhere, Canada's major hub cities:

- have fewer sources of revenue and are overly dependent on property taxes

- receive less financial assistance from other orders of government, and

- have limited legislative tools

Canada's major hub cities need to be better equipped to compete on the nation's
behalf in the global marketplace.

The mayors of Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal,
Quebec City, and Halifax call on the Federal and Provincial governments to
strengthen Canada's competitiveness in partnership with Canada's cities.

The 2004 Throne Speech and Federal budget should:

1. Rebate 100% of the GST paid by municipalities and their agencies.

This action would reduce the federal tax burden on municipalities by $525
million a year. Federal and provincial governments do not pay sales taxes. As
partners, neither should municipal governments. In addition to a full GST
rebate, relief from provincial sales taxes is needed.

2. Accelerate investment in urban infrastructure through existing programs.

Two billion dollars are promised by the Federal Government over the next 10
years through the Strategic Infrastructure Fund. Availability of this funding
should be accelerated to 2004, while new frameworks to provide adequate,
stable, long-term funding for infrastructure, transit and transportation are
negotiated.

2005 Federal Budget:

By the end of 2004, new partnership agreements should:

3. Provide cities with a new net revenue source, based on the user-pay
principle, of five cents per litre from the existing federal fuel excise tax.

- This measure would generate net new revenues of $2.5 billion a year for
Canadian municipalities dedicated to infrastructure, transportation and transit.

4. Allow cities to address their priorities and invest in economic growth by
retaining a share of locally-generated tax revenues that grow with the economy,
such as:

- a share of federal and provincial sales tax revenue
- a share of income tax revenue

5. Match or exceed the average level of US and Western European governments'
investment in municipal transit and transportation infrastructure:

- Canada cannot remain the only G7 country without a national transit
investment program.

6. Involve major hub cities as partners in Federal and Provincial policy,
program and budget deliberations on issues that have a direct impact on major
urban centres.

7. Introduce flexibility and improve the delivery and supply of existing
affordable housing programs to focus on serving the needs of Canadians.

8. Make regulatory changes to support cities. For example:

- Amending the federal Income Tax Act to make employer-provided transit passes
a tax-exempt benefit, which would help reduce gridlock.

- Converting the Commercial Heritage Properties Incentive Fund to a tax credit
program.

Embracing these proposals and a new spirit of partnership will:

- Allow Canadian cities to close the infrastructure gap and address local
priorities, and

- Support the fiscal position of Provincial and Federal governments, who will
benefit from expanded economic activity.


The mayors of Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal,
Quebec City, and Halifax will help the Federal and Provincial governments
deliver a New Deal for Canada's cities. We will:

1. Participate in a new National Forum on Economic Growth to be held in
Montreal in the spring of 2004

- The FCM Big City Mayors will participate.

- Federal and Provincial governments will be invited.

2. Ensure our staff work closely together, sharing best practices and research.

3. Help local residents and business understand how municipal finance and
legislative arrangements (established by the Federal and Provincial
governments) impact the quality of life and competitiveness of their city.

4. Meet again in Toronto in the fall of 2004.


For further information:

Visit http://www.canadascities.ca

Andrea Addario, Office of Mayor David Miller, (416) 738-4329 (cell);
Kevin Sack, Corporate Communications, (416) 919-6500 (cell);
Brad Ross, Corporate Communications, (416) 919-6503 (cell);
Geoff Meggs, Office of Mayor Larry Campbell, Vancouver, (604) 315-1737;
Pat Lobregt, Office of Mayor Bill Smith, Edmonton, (780) 496-8100;
Shelly Brown, Office of Mayor Fiacco, Regina, (306) 537-9015;
Toby McCrael, Office of Mayor Glen Murray, Winnipeg, (204) 794-4966 (cell);
Alf Chaiton, Office of Mayor Bob Chiarelli, Ottawa, (613) 286-9467 (cell);
Christiane Miville-Deschênes, Office of Mayor Gérald Tremblay, Montréal,
(514) 605-1042;
Claire Vaillancourt, Office of Councillor Jobin, Québec City, (418) 573-2029;
Mayor Peter Kelly, Halifax, (902) 222-9999 (cell)



 

 

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