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Hamilton joins other big cities in need for transit and infrastructure

Hamilton needs to stay “in lockstep” with the rest of Canada’s larger cities in calling for more money for infrastructure, transit and affordable housing.

Hamilton needs to stay “in lockstep” with the rest of Canada’s larger cities in calling for more money for infrastructure, transit and affordable housing.

That was the message from Mayor Fred Eisenberger after he attended the Big Cities Summit on Thursday. Eisenberger joined 19 mayors from across Canada to talk about common issues they face.

And while the circumstances are different on some issues, such as transit, all of the cities need to keep pressuring the federal and provincial governments to address them, Eisenberger told CBC Hamilton from Toronto.

“The benefit for Hamilton is that we have a common theme that is going to be emanating throughout the country on issues of infrastructure, transit and housing,” he said.

“The value is that we’re going to have some pretty significant voices talking about this in the coming weeks and months.”

The annual conference focuses on big cities and the challenges they face. In terms of ridings, the 19 mayors at the summit represent 142 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons. That allows them to pressure parties to include urban agendas in their platforms, said Mayor Naheed Nenshi of Calgary.

“Whoever figures out how to fund transit, how to fund housing…I guess that person gets to be the next prime minister,” he said.

John Tory of Toronto said the cities need “consistent, reliable, secure funding so we can plan, particularly for transit.”

Several cities are on a different page when it comes to transit, Eisenberger said. Hamilton’s transit needs are more similar to Winnipeg and Halifax than Toronto or Vancouver.

But every city has an infrastructure deficit and need for affordable housing, Eisenberger said. And Hamilton will benefit from several cities “singing the same tune.”

Transit funding will be at the forefront Friday morning, when Hamilton councillors meet for a budget session that shows the need for $301,875,000 over 10 years to improve and growth the city’s transit system.

That’s not including an estimated $1 billion it would cost to install a light rail transit line from Eastgate Square to McMaster University, which council has approved provided the province fully funds the capital costs. 

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