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Ontario Construction News staff writer
Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) met with provincial Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy last week, ahead of the upcoming Provincial-Municipal Housing Summit.
“For the past 20 months, all orders of government have been working together to ensure our residents and businesses are supported during the pandemic,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.
“While public transit has been the focus of financial support, and we are grateful for that assistance, there are other areas within cities experiencing shortfalls, like arenas, facility rentals and bylaw enforcement to name a few, that need financial support from other orders of government.”
Mayors are calling on the provincial and federal government to provide continued support to municipalities throughout the 2022 fiscal year to help recover from the impacts of COVID-19. The caucus urged for the continuation of the Safe Restart Agreement.
Housing affordability has emerged as a top priority across Ontario, with cties and towns – big and small, urban and rural from Northern Ontario to downtown Toronto experiencing significant increases in housing prices, with no end in sight.
“Housing affordability is impacting so many people in Kitchener and across the province, said Vrbanovic.
“While finding efficiencies in municipal approval processes, such as those enacted by the City of Kitchener, is a part of the solution, all orders of government need to work together towards creating affordable housing for all.”
Mayors are looking for solutions from all levels of government, including fiscal levers and other policy options to slow the “commodification of houses that people so desperately need,” said Mayor Vrbanovic.
OBCM Mayors also discussed the importance of healthcare and hospitals and support for people suffering mental health and addictions.
Ontario’s Big City Mayors is comprised of mayors of Ontario cities with populations of 100,000 or more.