From May 30-June 2, and for the first time representing the City of Burlington as your Mayor, I attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Annual Conference, which was held in Québec City this year.
FCM is another great way to collaborate with my peers across Canada — to find new and innovative ways to make sure your city and elected officials are serving you better.
This year, more than 2,000 delegates from across Canada attended. FCM has 2,071 member local governments, from 19 provincial and territorial associations, representing 91% of Canadian residents.
We are truly stronger when we stand together with one voice on local issues.
With a federal election coming this fall, we were able to hear from each of the leaders of our four major federal political parties, including Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada Justin Trudeau; Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada Andrew Scheer; Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Canada Jagmeet Singh; and Leader of the Green Party of Canada Elizabeth May.
We heard about each of their priorities and how they planned to work with local municipalities.
The Conference itself offers us the chance to engage in workshops and study tours where we learned some best practices and gained new insights to solving some of the challenges we face in our own municipalities.
Also as part of FCM, delegates who are also elected officials vote annually for who can sit on the federation’s regional boards – the boards act as a voice to the federal government, bringing forward views and issues particular to their regions.
Our own Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan was elected to serve on the Ontario board for one year, representing Halton Region. It is great to have a rural and urban Burlington voice around the FCM board table.
In addition, we also passed several resolutions on subjects of national municipal interest that fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government. For the complete list of FCM’s 2019 Resolutions, please click the link.
Resolutions referred to the Annual Conference by the Board of Directors
1. Expand the Airports Capital Assistance Program – (From – Union des municipalités du Québec):
- WHEREAS, Airports play a fundamental role in opening up peripheral regions and in transporting goods and people, as well as providing emergency transportation;
- WHEREAS, Airports contribute to the economic development of regions and dynamic use of land;
- WHEREAS, Airport authorities are struggling to find the necessary funds to ensure that their facilities remain safe and secure, to maintain their equipment and ensure runways in good condition;
- WHEREAS, The federal Airport Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) funds capital projects related to safety, airport property protection and operating cost reduction;
- WHEREAS, ACAP is available only for airports that offer year-round commercial passenger service with a minimum of 1,000 passengers per year;
- WHEREAS, Many airports do not meet the ACAP eligibility criteria as they do not offer regular services; and
- WHEREAS, ACAP funding has been capped for several years; now therefore be it
- RESOLVED, That FCM urge the federal government to extend eligibility for ACAP to all small airports, including those providing commercial passenger service to fewer than 1,000 passengers per year, and to increase funding available for the program.
- MOTION APPROVED
2. Gender-based Violence – (From – City of Edmonton, AB)
- WHEREAS, Every six days in Canada a woman is killed by her intimate partner;
- WHEREAS, One in five women experience some form of abuse in their intimate relationship;
- WHEREAS, The majority of victims of spousal abuse are female, accounting for 83% of all victims;
- WHEREAS, Every year in Canada 362,000 children witness or experience family violence;
- WHEREAS, Gender based violence affects every community across Canada;
- WHEREAS, The cost of violence against women costs the national justice system, social assistance budgets and municipal budgets millions of dollars per year;
- WHEREAS, In the 2018 federal budget, the Government of Canada announced a national strategy for response to gender-based violence (GBV) that includes funding of $86 million over five years, focusing on prevention, support for survivors and their families, and promotion of responsive legal and justice systems;
- WHEREAS, Municipalities are on the front lines in addressing gender-based violence in our communities and therefore are in a position to offer insights on the needs and possible directions for the federal funding; therefore be it
- RESOLVED, That FCM endorse in principle the federal government’s national strategy to address gender-based violence; and be it further
- RESOLVED, That FCM advocate with the federal government for municipalities to be consulted on how the strategy and the funding is implemented.
- MOTION APPROVED
3. Federal Climate Change Adaptation Funding and Support for Regional Disaster Mitigation and Flood Planning – (From – City of Gatineau, Quebec)
- WHEREAS, the City of Gatineau is particularly impacted by the effects of extreme weather events, including major floods in 2017 and 2019, a tornado in 2018 and more frequent heavy rainfalls;
- WHEREAS, a recent report released by Environment and Climate Change Canada found that Canada has and will continue to warm, on average, twice as much as the rest of the world, and the effects of this warming are already being experienced by Canadian municipalities; and
- WHEREAS, a recent study commissioned by the Union of Quebec Municipalities found that the cost of adapting to climate change for Quebec municipalities could hit $4 billion over the next five years; and
- WHEREAS, the Insurance Bureau of Canada reported that in 2018 insured damage for severe weather events across Canada reached $1.9 billion, and while this figure represents the fourth highest amount of losses on record, the losses in 2018 were caused not by any single large event but by the culmination of many smaller disaster events; and
- WHEREAS, investing in disaster mitigation and climate change adaptation infrastructure has been demonstrated to not only increase the resiliency of communities but also reduce the economic losses associated with extreme weather events; and
- WHEREAS, the majority of federal funding programs for disaster mitigation and climate change adaptation (e.g. National Disaster Mitigation Program, Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program, Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund) are fully subscribed and/or nearing completion; and
- WHEREAS, increasing community resilience through disaster mitigation and climate change adaptation cannot be successfully achieved without collaboration between multiple stakeholders, including federal, provincial and municipal governments, private landowners, residents, First Nations, and businesses, and there is a need to ensure that future funding for disaster mitigation and adaptation encourages a regional, multi-stakeholder approach; therefore be it
- RESOLVED, that FCM call on the Government of Canada to provide predictable, flexible, long- term infrastructure funding to help municipalities reduce disaster risk and adapt to climate change, with funding levels based on the latest assessments of the impact of climate change and the cost of adapting municipal infrastructure; and be it further
- RESOLVED, that FCM call on the Government of Canada to ensure that future investments in disaster mitigation and climate change adaptation support a regional approach where costs and benefits are shared between all orders of government; and be it further
- RESOLVED, That FCM call on the Government of Canada to provide support for municipalities and regional bodies to undertake (bold and italics is amendment) climate risk assessments and disaster risk reduction plans, including watershed-level flood mitigation plans.
- MOTION APPROVED AS AMENDED (to include municipalities in third “resolved” paragraph)
4. Municipal Engagement in the Canadian Broadband Strategy – (From – Association of Yukon Communities, YK)
- WHEREAS FCM has been calling on the federal government to create an ambitious, long-term national broadband strategy with clear targets; long-term, predictable funding; and an emphasis on affordability;
- WHEREAS in October 2018, federal, provincial and territorial ministers agreed to developing a long-term strategy to improve access to high-speed Internet services for all Canadians;
- WHEREAS Budget 2019 made significant commitments to funding broadband infrastructure for rural, remote and northern communities;
- WHEREAS revaluating targets for fixed and mobile broadband on a regular basis will ensure that rural communities do not fall behind in the development of new technologies, or suffer from a loss of access or decrease in quality of services;
- WHEREAS municipalities have on-the-ground knowledge with respect to the challenges their communities face in accessing broadband and as such can provide important input into data collection and can leverage their expertise to support the achievement of the objectives of the Canadian Broadband Strategy; therefore be it
- RESOLVED that FCM urge the federal government to engage municipalities in the development of the Canadian broadband strategy and in the design and eligibility criteria of the new federal broadband fund; and be it further
- RESOVLED that FCM encourage the federal government to include considerations for evolving speed targets in the Canadian broadband strategy; and be it further
- RESOLVED that FCM encourage the Canadian Infrastructure Bank (amended to – “Government of Canada”) to engage with municipalities so that projects that have demonstrated engagement with local governments and that consider local needs are prioritized.
- MOTION APPROVED
5. Prioritizing Housing Affordability – (From – City of Victoria, B.C.)
- WHEREAS the National Housing Strategy prioritizes housing solutions for low- and moderate-income households, per FCM’s recommendations;
- WHEREAS renters and homeowners at a range of income levels and in cities and communities of all sizes are increasingly unlikely to be able to access or maintain a home that is affordable to them and meets their needs;
WHEREAS, on average, owning a home is more expensive now than at any time in the last 30 years;
- WHEREAS average rent increases are outstripping inflation in many housing markets;
- WHEREAS the stability of national and local housing markets has a direct linkage to national and local economic outcomes;
- WHEREAS housing affordability is correlated to positive health and socioeconomic outcomes;
- WHEREAS the federal government has influence over the affordability of housing, both rented and owned, through the regulation of mortgages and mortgage insurance, taxation levers and its spending power;
- WHEREAS the federal government’s 2019 budget underscored that housing affordability is a federal concern, and that it has an important role to play in addressing it through the announcement of the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive and enhancements to both the Rental Construction Financing Initiative and Home Buyer’s Plan;
- RESOLVED that the federal government assess and publicly report on the impact of budget 2019 measures designed to improve housing affordability for renters and owners; and
- RESOLVED that the federal government work with municipalities through FCM to determine the most effective federal role in improving housing affordability for renters and owners at the local level.
- MOTION APPROVED
6. Rural Economic Development – (From – Parkland County, AB)
- WHEREAS rural communities make significant contributions to Canada’s economic growth;
- WHEREAS rural municipalities have been impacted by the demographic changes that have accompanied Canada’s increasingly urbanized and knowledge-based economy;
- WHEREAS rural Canada is extremely diverse in terms of population size, density, demographic composition and degree of remoteness, the opportunities for economic development in rural communities must be considered in federal policies and programs for rural economic development in a manner that respects and capitalizes on that diversity; therefore be it
- RESOLVED that FCM call on the federal government to strategically leverage existing programs, policies and institutions to further rural economic development, such as regional economic development offices; and be it further
- RESOLVED that the Minister of Rural Economic Development engage municipalities (amended to – “local governments”) through FCM to develop economic growth approaches that recognize the diverse needs and solutions in rural communities across Canada.
- MOTION APPROVED
7. Zero Emission Buses and Municipal Fleet Vehicles – (From – executive committee of FCM)
- WHEREAS, transportation accounts for nearly 25% of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; and
- WHEREAS, responding to the resolution Electric Vehicle Incentives adopted by FCM’s Board of Directors in 2018, the 2019 federal budget included important incentives to help Canadian households and businesses to purchase electric vehicles; and
- WHEREAS, there are a range of proven low- and zero-emission propulsion technologies including battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell and renewable natural gas from municipal waste facilities that can be integrated into municipal light-duty (passenger vehicles and trucks) and heavy-duty (waste collection and snow clearing) vehicles; and
- WHEREAS, there were 17,000 municipal transit vehicles in operation in Canada in 2017, 14,000 of which were diesel, and switching from a diesel bus to a zero-emission bus reduces GHG emissions by 1,500 tonnes per year; and
- WHEREAS, zero-emission bus technology is proven and already in use in municipal transit fleets, two of the leading zero-emission bus manufacturers are Canadian companies, and municipal transit agencies have set targets to incorporate zero-emission buses into their fleets; and
- WHEREAS, it is challenging for municipalities to cover the higher upfront capital cost of zero- emission vehicles, including the charging or refueling infrastructure, without impacting service levels; now therefore be it
- RESOLVED, That the Government of Canada support municipalities (amended to. – “local governments”) to purchase or lease zero- emission fleet vehicles, and associated charging or refueling infrastructure, including through grants, financing and bulk procurement; and be it further
- RESOLVED, That the Government of Canada support municipalities (amended to. – “local governments”) to purchase or lease zero-emission transit buses, and associated charging or refueling infrastructure, including through grants, financing and bulk procurement
- MOTION APPROVED