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City Leaders Flex Muscle in Ottawa

Canadian cities are no strangers to rankings of the world's most functional, attractive cities. Even so, the mayors of Canada's 22 largest cities want national leaders in Ottawa to adopt an even more explicitly pro-urban national agenda.
February 8, 2015, 5am PST | Josh Stephens | @jrstephens310
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As spread out and disparate as Canada's cities may be, they have recently found a united voice. Against the backdrop of upcoming national elections, Canada's 22 largest cities are lobbying for stronger political representation, which may, in turn, lead to more city-friendly funding and policies from Ottawa. Even Toronto and Montreal, which have been grappling with internal challenges, are cooperating. The result may be that some of the world's most highly regarded cities will get even better.  

On the occasion of the lobbying trip, the Toronto Globe and Mail interviewed five mayors to discuss what they want from Ottawa. 

"Growth shines a spotlight on a number of problems around how cities are financed and in particular how cities invest in infrastructure. So that is where commonality occurs with all cities across Canada. We don’t have a good system of predictable, stable, long-term revenue that helps us fund infrastructure and particularly helps us fund transportation and transit infrastructure, as well as water and waste water and housing."

"I’d like to replace property taxes on a revenue-neutral basis with a more economically smart, growth form of taxation. There are different options. There’s a municipal sales tax, which has its own challenges that would have to be addressed before I would support it. Another would be a municipal income tax. Other levels of government have long abandoned property tax as a vehicle to fuel growth. I would like cities to have skin in the game when it comes to economic development, a vested interest in ensuring there’s economic activity so they collect more revenues."

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Published on Sunday, February 1, 2015 in Toronto Globe and Mail
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