Monday was the first of five days of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting and it began with the Big City Mayors’ Caucus which includes the 22 largest cities in Canada. The meeting focused heavily on affordable housing.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said he is pleased to see money being put toward affordable housing.
“While they are pleased to see an additional 1.5 billion in the recent budget for the Rapid Housing Initiative dollars, this is an area we know is going to need additional support especially coming out of the pandemic.”
He adds discussions with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland included the importance of continued strong collaboration between the different levels of governments to address the housing crisis across the country.
“We had an opportunity to talk about the issues around housing affordability, rental, and supply as well as barriers to homeownership and talk about some of the work that cities like Kitchener, Waterloo, and other cities are doing in each of these areas. [We want] to encourage the government to actively work with us to address the issues.”
Vrbanovic said when talking about increasing housing supply, there are things like ‘the missing middle.’
“Some of the initiatives include being able to approve duplexes, triplexes, tiny homes, and looking at things like coaching houses. All those are part of the long-term solutions to addressing supply and affordability issues going forward,” he said.
They want to continue working with the federal government to make sure they can work together to end homelessness. Vrbanovic said Minister Freeland has a real deep understanding of the important roles Canada’s cities play in building a strong nation.
“Whether it was the regular meetings with us in the early stages of the pandemic which ultimately lead to our safe restart funding, to the dialogue we have now, there is a genuine commitment to see us work with her and her cabinet colleagues and the Prime Minister to advance the issues forward,” he said.
“I think she recognizes the important role that Canada’s cities are going to play in terms of the country’s post-Covid economic recovery,” he continued, “this means working with us to get more housing built to look at transit investments and invest in infrastructure and those areas we know we can see the most significant success in the quickest way possible”
Vrbanovic said while he does have a seat at the Big City Mayors table, Regional Chair Karen Redman sits at the AMO’s Regional Chairs single-tier municipalities table. He adds with a seat at each of those tables, they bring the lessons they learn from the regional communities around them and that they are also advocating for the region as a whole.
“We speak together as one voice for the broad investment we need for our communities.”
“For my role sitting at the Big City Mayors table, affordable housing is a big topic at the city and the regional level, but I also speak on issues such as transit which is a regional issue.”
“What quickly became evident when you sit at one of these tables is you recognize [each municipality] has so much in common and everyone has a great new initiative that they are undertaking and we can learn from each other.”
“We are grateful and appreciate the investments the federal government has made in municipalities to date.
Original Article: https://www.kitchenertoday.com/local-news/big-city-mayors-caucus-share-affordable-housing-concerns-and-look-toward-economic-recovery-post-pandemic-3827606