Last June, several members of Council were on hand at the annual general meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Saskatoon where Edmonton Councillor Karen Leibovici was elected FCM president for a two-year term. At that conference I invited the newly elected president to visit Cote Saint-Luc. With a regional meeting of the FCM this past week, in Laval, the president did indeed take me up on my offer.
Last evening I welcomed Leibovici to City Hall. She is no stranger to our city having grown up in the Cote des Neiges neighbourhood of Montreal and with close family still residing in Cote Saint-Luc.
Our informal meeting included Mayor Anthony Housefather and Councillor Ruth Kovac along with Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg and Councillor Bonnie Feigenbaum.
We discussed the important subject of the renewal of billions of dollars in federal funding for municipalities when the latest 10 year agreement expires in 2014. Leibovici indicated that funding for municipalities across the country needs to be “predictable, flexible, long term and sustainable.”
Current funding sources from Ottawa include the community infrastructure fund and gas tax. Such funds were instrumental in the financing of the new Aquatic and Community Centre on Parkhaven Avenue. With an aging infrastructure in Cote Saint-Luc, such as water pipes, underpasses, municipal buildings and parks, it is crucial that we find sources of revenue from the provincial and federal governments to prevent these assets from slipping from good or fair to poor condition and to ensure that we constantly upgrade to good or excellent condition as has been our tradition. All this, without having to rely solely on property taxes.
Close to 2,000 communities across Canada have come together to speak with one voice as the FCM. FCM has been the national voice of municipal government since 1901. Members include Canada’s largest cities, small urban and rural communities, and 21 provincial and territorial municipal associations. Municipal leaders from all parts of Canada assemble annually to establish FCM policy on key issues. Today, FCM carries on the tradition of actively advocating to have the needs of municipalities – and their citizens – reflected in federal policies and programs. Year after year, FCM’s work has benefitted each and every municipal government and taxpayer in Canada.