Region's mayors look to Ottawa for boost to infrastructure funding
Housing, public transit, climate action also key priorities
Improving infrastructure is a top priority for Waterloo region's mayors as their counterparts from across Canada gathered in Ottawa this week to lobby for more funding from the federal government.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities released its wish list Thursday for the new government's first 100 days in office.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic was in Ottawa and said he's confident Canada's municipal leaders can work with the government on priority areas.
"Candians have spoken. We have a minority government and we're ready to work together with both the governing party and the opposition parties to deliver on those priorities," he said.
In addition to infrastructure, he said housing, public transit and climate action are key priorities for Canadian municipalities, as well as Indigenous partnerships and funds to fight substance abuse, guns and gang violence.
He said the federal gas tax has been a major boost for the region's municipal projects, but he'd like to see even more co-operation between levels of government. Right now, municipalities get 10 cents of every tax dollar collected, but are responsible for 60 per cent of infrastructure, he said.
Rural townships want better internet, sustained funding
In the region's rural townships, improved internet is another high-priority.
"You have families from the rural areas, the farms, they're driving their kids in to sit at a Tim Hortons so they can do their homework," said Les Armstrong, mayor of Wilmot Township.
He said infrastructure remains high on his list as well.
"The infrastructure's deteriorating and we need to try and keep at least keep up with it or try to get ahead of it," he said. "We need a steady stream of funding to help us do that."
That's a sentiment Woolwich Township's Mayor Sandy Shantz echoes as well.
She said without sustained funding it's hard to plan projects and maintain the township's assets.
"There's millions of dollars that we should be doing to keep our roads upgraded that we can't do because we don't have money for it," she said. "A program may come and we can apply for additional funds from the province or perhaps from the federal government and then we may get it or we may not."
Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie is optimistic about the chances of getting more funding.
"I would have to say that the relationship with municipalities was renewed with the previous government," he said.
"We are literally the boots on the ground," he said. "We're the ones ready to go here."