Municipalities urge parties to show plans

Canada's federal political parties need to explain what they will do to help cities and municipalities if elected, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities says.

Canada's federal political parties need to explain what they will do to help cities and municipalities if elected, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities says.

Canada needs to implement a national strategy to cut commute times and improve public transit, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities says. (Kevin Frayer/Canadian Press)

The federation said Wednesday that 40 per cent of federal investment in municipalities will expire in the next 36 months.

"That's not stimulus money — that's 40 per cent of core funding — investments in roads, housing and frontline police officers," FCM president Hans Cunningham said in a statement.

Cunningham said the federal parties must outline how they will work with municipalities to deal with growing challenges, including traffic gridlock, local policing and affordable housing.

The federation said several key programs have recently expired, or are set to expire, including the Building Canada Infrastructure Fund, a $1.2 billion per year program set to expire in 2014. Affordable housing and homelessness programs worth $380 million per year and a police officer recruitment fund worth $80 million per year will also expire in 2014, the federation said.

The public transit capital trust, which was worth $300 million per year, expired in 2009, the federation said.

"Municipalities just don't have the funding tools other governments have, and they can't afford to meet these national challenges all on their own," Cunningham said.

The federation wants the leaders to agree to index the gas-tax transfer to keep up with inflation, population and economic growth. It also wants to hear pledges from the leaders on fixing holes in housing systems and strengthening rural Canada by appointing a rural affairs minister.

The federation said recent stimulus measures have helped build a "new era" of federal-municipal co-operation, but the federation said much more needs to be done, calling on all parties to try and "expand and entrench" the partnership and help reform municipalities' funding tools.

With files from The Canadian Press