Close to 2000 of Canada’s municipal leaders gathered last week at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Annual Conference and Trade Show in Niagara Region. They had opportunities to learn from experts, attend workshops on a variety of issues, and network with colleagues. There was a lot of discussion on how to influence the federal government to ensure that Canadians have the quality of life they deserve, and enabling the innovation that creates jobs and growth in this country.
From investing in our roads, bridges, transit and water system to making sure all Canadians have a decent pace to live, we know many of the solutions lie in strengthening our hometowns and their ability to be innovative and responsive.
From the largest cities to the tightest knit communities across Canada, more than 2000 member municipalities share a common passion and a belief in building a strong Canada from the ground up. Much of the discussion revolved around the frontline role municipalities play in delivering key services to Canadians.
Delegates also had the opportunity to hear from, and influence speakers, representing all parties including three leaders of opposition parties (Liberals, NDP and the Green Party) and two federal ministers.
Municipal leaders left the conference with knowledge, resources and a strong commitment to champion municipalities and the key services they provide to Canadians.
We are leaving the Niagara Region with a united message that a strong Canada begins with strong hometowns. These are the services Canadians rely on and we know that they want to see all levels of government cooperate to make our hometowns stronger.
In fact, municipal leaders from coast to coast will be pushing that message to the top of the agenda in the next federal election.
Continuously seeking new ideas to improve the quality and delivery of local services requires learning and networking on the part of the administration and elected officials. The FCM does an extraordinary job of bringing together mayors, councillors, reeves, wardens, commissioners and other local elected officials from across the country to advance the cause of where we live: home.
I have benefited greatly from experts and fellow councillors who have immense experience in disaster readiness, urban planning, public safety and all aspects of municipal life and services. It is incredibly informative to discuss how other elected officials from other cities and towns deal with issues of doing more for their constituents without relying on more taxes, for example.
The session on extreme weather and how it is affecting all of our communities was an eye opener. Dr. Blair Feltmate from University of Waterloo demonstrated that there are techniques in urban development that all cities should be engaging in to safeguard current and future residents as our country, and indeed the world, continues to grow in population, well beyond a sustainable threshold.
Experts in emergency preparedness, public safety and rail safety instructed delegates in always being prepared, in constant planning and most of all, ‘practice, practice, practice.’ Disasters are not remote possibilities. They will occur, sooner or later. The experts all say that. This is not news to Cote Saint-Luc or to me, having dedicated most of my life to this area of civic engagement.
I salute outgoing FCM President and Lachine Borough Mayor Clause Dauphin, whom I have observed for many years. Claude is a talented, energetic and charismatic leader who has led FCM for the past year with determination and purpose. I am amazed how he championed the FCM, ran for reelection in Lachine and still managed time for constituents, family and himself in just one year. Bravo to Claude for his public service.
Thank you FCM for this marvelous opportunity in becoming better educated and informed about major issues affecting all of our hometowns. I am better equipped to serve my constituents having learned from Canada’s leading experts.