The Current

Canada's chronically underfunded cities beg government to fix crisis

Forget the gravy train, municipal leaders across this country say they need money to run the rails. Cities are asking the federal government for a billion dollars for transit. Their leaders say they are in crisis with chronic underfunding, even though most Canadians spend within their jurisdiction.
Municipalities demand stable funding for transit projects, but is it up to the Federal government to fund cities? Or should they find a way to do it themselves? (Davebloggs007, Flickr cc)
This week, cities call for another billion dollars a year in the federal budget, for public transit funding. (Buie, Flickr cc)

Mayors from right across the country have been saying it for a long time now ... their cities are starved for cash.

The buzz phrases are all familiar by now — crumbling infrastructure, overloaded transit systems, and clogged roads. And this week, cities put a price tag on the kind of cash infusion they'd like to see... calling for the federal budget to include at least $1-billion a year in new funding for public transit.

This week's call for cash came from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. And that group's first vice president, Vancouver city councillor and acting mayor Raymound Louie, joined us from Vancouver.

Perennial pleas for increased city funding can feel as predictable as the spring thaw. Municipal leaders seem to be forever talking about the need for more money, while at the same time being under constant pressure to invest in major infrastructure projects. And in the end, there never seems to be enough to go around.

Today we're asking whether there's a way to solve the problem of our chronically underfunded municipalities. And we've assembled a panel of thinkers to tackle the question.

Andrew Miller is a strategic leader with the City of Mississauga. He was in Toronto.

Frances Bula is a municipal reporter in Vancouver.

Ross Hickey is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. He was in Kelowna. 

Add your thoughts to this discussion. 

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This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson and Liz Hoath.