Big city mayors meeting one for the record books, Brian Bowman says

A recent meeting of mayoral minds in the nation's capital was one for the record books, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says.

Bowman proud to 'provide a strong voice on the national stage' for Winnipeggers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson (left) as he sits down with Canada's big city mayors Friday morning on Parliament Hill. Robertson praised Trudeau's "positive approach" toward cities and infrastructure issues. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

A recent meeting of mayoral minds in the nation's capital was one for the record books, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says.

The big city mayors meeting just wrapped in Ottawa, with mayors from almost two dozen cities from across Canada making the trip.

"Being able to have 21 of the mayors from Canada's largest cities in the room with the prime minister is something that hasn't happened in recent history," Bowman said. "It was historic."

Bowman said one of the most important points to come from the meeting was that it occurred at all.

"We are restarting a relationship that had been significantly neglected over the last 10 years," Justin Trudeau told reporters at the conclusion of their Friday morning meeting on Parliament Hill, and Bowman echoed that sentiment Saturday.

Bowman said he and the other mayors met with Trudeau and six cabinet ministers. They batted around ideas on everything from infrastructure spending, climate change policy, findings from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Syrian refugee crisis, Bowman said.
Mayor Brian Bowman spoke with other big city mayors about many issues at the meeting, including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, Syrian refugee resettlement, infrastructure, public safety and climate change. (CBC)

He said Winnipeggers should know they have a presence in Ottawa. 

"I'm certainly doing my best to represent Winnipeg well and to provide a strong voice on the national stage," he said.

Bowman said he and the other mayors are now waiting to see what will be in the Trudeau government's first budget next month.

"While we obviously want as much money flowing to cities as quickly as possible, we also want to make sure we are ensuring that investments that are made have long-term economic impact," Bowman said.

"There were really two branches of discussion: one was how to ensure monies are flowing for building communities across Canada in the short-term, but also how can we establish a framework for long-term sustainable investments by the federal government in Canada's largest cities, including Winnipeg."

In terms of infrastructure spending, Bowman acknowledged municipalities of all sizes have mounting concerns about rising sewage and water costs.

"Whether they are rural or big cities, [municipalities] face some pretty daunting bills in terms of making investments and renewing our water and waste facilities," Bowman said.

"These are hugely enormous amounts of money that need to be spent in order to ensure we're doing our part to have a sustainable environment."

Bowman added that while the city is working closely with the province to improve aging water and waste facilities, he also expects the Trudeau government to make good on its campaign promise to help municipalities along the way.

"Winnipeg is and will be at the table to do its part, but obviously the federal government has pledged that they will be providing assistance to municipalities for water and waste," Bowman said.