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Mayors call for more infrastructure money from federal government

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina was part of a contingent of big city mayors in Ottawa Thursday asking the federal government for another $2.5 billion a year for infrastructure costs.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities met today in Ottawa to ask for more funding from the federal government 3:09

Canada's big city mayors are in Ottawa Thursday, asking the federal government for billions of dollars and a 20-year plan to fix the country's roads and combat gridlock.

Mayor Bob Bratina says "comprehensive and sustainable transit," including bus transit and LRT should be considered for Hamilton moving forward.

"Transit planning is critical," Bratina told CBC Hamilton from Ottawa.

In Vancouver earlier this week, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities said cities and towns need another $2.5 billion a year in order to keep Canada competitive. The 22-member big city mayors' caucus would like to see a commitment in next year's federal budget.

The organization says that would bring the total to $5.75 billion a year from the federal government — funds that should then be matched by the provinces and municipalities themselves.

But Bratina said matching that funding could be an "interesting challenge," and added that in some cases, municipalities could end up borrowing money to match that cost.

The federation says $1 billion of the funding should be dedicated to fighting gridlock that it says costs the Canadian economy $10 billion a year in lost productivity.

Bratina says gridlock isn't as much of an issue for Hamilton as it is other centres.

"We just don't have that problem," he said, but added traffic in cities like Toronto and Mississauga does limit Hamilton's "growth and potential for reaching other cities."

The mayors want to see a 20-year plan to fix Canada's crumbling infrastructure.

For every dollar of taxes Canadians pay, municipalities get only eight cents, the mayors said.

"On eight cents, we just can't get it done," said Don Atchison, the mayor of Saskatoon.

Bratina said there is a sense in the room that the federal government is trying to support municipal politics despite their own funding woes.

But will they be able to come through on this $2.5 billion?

"That remains to be seen," Bratina said.