Canada's Cities and Communities at a Tipping Point says new FCM Report

Despite recent gains, Canada's cities and communities are facing growing financial uncertainty according to a new annual report released by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) titled The State of Canada's Cities and Communities 2012.

"Canada is at a tipping point. Either we continue moving forward with rebuilding our cities and communities or Canada will fall behind as crumbling roads, traffic gridlock and sky-high housing prices cost our economy jobs and investment." said FCM President Berry Vrbanovic.

According to the report, local governments continue to operate without a stable and secure share of the total tax revenues generated by their communities, and they remain vulnerable to offloading of costly responsibilities by other orders of government. Of every new dollar in taxes Canadians have paid during the past 50 years, federal and provincial treasuries have collected 95 cents, with just five cents paid to municipalities. A recent increase in federal investments has helped municipalities, but one-third of core federal-municipal funding is set to expire within the next two years.

"Despite recent investments, our broken tax system continues to take too many tax-dollars out of our communities and away from the core infrastructure and services that support our economy," said Vrbanovic. "To support a growing economy, municipalities need secure revenues that keep pace with their growing responsibilities."

According to the report, the three budget items that have increased fastest for municipalities since 1988 were affordable housing, health, and social services, all areas where other orders of government have offloaded major new costs on to the municipal property tax-base.

"The federal government must protect and build on recent gains in our cities and communities, and expand its partnership with local governments to meet Canada's social, economic, and environmental challenges," said Vrbanovic. "We have finally started rebuilding the cities and communities that support our economy and quality of life - we can't afford to go back."

Canada's big city Mayors will meet in Saskatoon this Thursday to discuss the federal government's new long-term infrastructure plan and next steps in addressing these issues. They meet just ahead of FCM's Annual Conference taking place from June 1 - 4, 2012 in Saskatoon which will bring together over 1600 municipal leaders from across Canada, representing our smallest towns to our biggest city. They will be discussing major issues highlighted in the report including infrastructure, policing & public safety and housing.

For a copy of FCM's State of Canada’s Cities and Communities Report, click here.