City of Mississauga

City of Mississauga

January 22, 2008 09:22 ET

Mayor McCallion Issues Challenge to Finance Minister Flaherty

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 22, 2008) - Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion has issued a challenge to federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to debate publicly the need for permanent federal funding for municipal infrastructure.

"It's time to have Mr. Flaherty address the citizens and businesses of Mississauga," said Mayor McCallion. "He has stated in the media that some of the municipalities have not kept up with infrastructure and did not establish adequate reserves. Well, I can tell him that he is dead wrong. The facts are that Mississauga has carefully set aside reserves for infrastructure for years."

"Today, cities are trying to maintain 58 per cent of public infrastructure with eight cents of every tax dollar. It is our job to maintain local infrastructure but that cannot be done with property tax dollars alone."

While the City has acknowledged the federal government's existing funding commitments, they are not enough. According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' recent report, $123 billion is needed to eliminate the municipal infrastructure deficit. In Mississauga, the deficit is estimated at $1.5 billion over the next 20 years.

"It's about Cities NOW! not tomorrow. We are serious and concerned about ensuring the viability and strength of our city as part of the economic engine of this country," continued Mayor McCallion. "The federal government has an opportunity to use its surplus to fund infrastructure projects."

McCallion added that she is challenging Mr. Flaherty to have an open and honest debate in Mississauga.

"We need to do something to tackle this issue. In Mississauga, our Cities NOW! campaign explains why it is so critical for the federal government to step in with much needed funding.

We've told our taxpayers that if there is no money in the next federal budget, council is prepared to consider a five per cent special infrastructure levy to help maintain the quality of life for our citizens and businesses. We cannot sit back and do nothing."

"I have sent a letter to the Prime Minister's Office and to Mr. Flaherty explaining our situation. I welcome the opportunity to meet with them and show them that Mississauga has done its homework. There is a need to reinvest in cities, to revisit how funding to cities is allocated and to understand that the outcome will be a win-win for all levels of government," concluded Mayor McCallion.

In November, the City embarked on a public and media campaign called Cities NOW! to illustrate to residents and businesses how the federal government is ignoring its responsibility to support strong communities and provide long-term, sustainable funding for municipal infrastructure projects and keep the economy of Canada on a sound basis. Information is available on www.citiesnow.ca.

Mississauga is Canada's sixth largest city with a population of more than 700,000. With well-established infrastructure and state of the art facilities, the City is considered to be an employer of choice, delivering quality municipal programs and services to its citizens. Mississauga is a dynamic, diverse, and progressive municipality, known for its economic strength and for being Canada's safest city.

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