‘A strong commitment’: Kitchener’s mayor discusses local projects with Prime Minister

Kitchener’s mayor says he’s confident some important projects across Waterloo Region have a good place on the radar of the new Liberal minority government in Ottawa.

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic spoke with CTV’s Tony Grace on Thursday evening from Ottawa, hours after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Vrbanovic and other big city mayors have been attending a meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which has included time with Trudeau, Freeland and some other ministers.

The main focus of this round of meetings, he said, was to continue advocating for the interests of local communities, but it’s also an opportunity to drill down on some specific needs.

“For Waterloo region, it’s certainly things like continued investments in public transit”, Vrbanovic said via Skype from Ottawa.

“So we can move forward with our business plan, and move forward with phase 2 of LRT, ultimately”, he added.

Vrbanovic says affordable housing – and creating more of it – is also an area in which cities need the federal government’s help.

“Investments in affordable housing are so key, particularly if we’re going to tackle things like mental health issues, homelessness, and our opioid crisis — supportive housing is a big part of that”, Vrabnovic added.

He says infrastructure investments – such as roads and bridges – are something else cities can’t do alone, noting that local municipalities own 60 per cent of the country’s infrastructure, but only collect 10 per cent of the country’s tax dollars.

Investments in green initiatives that help tackle climate change are another priority.

“The Prime Minister really along with Deputy Minster Freeland indicated a strong commitment to continuing to work with us on these files”, Vrbanovic added.

100 Day Plan

One highlight of the meetings in Ottawa was the launch of a 100-day plan, a list of 15 priority areas the FCM is urging the Liberal government to move quickly on in its first 100 days in office.

The FCM says it’s their view that a minority government brings unique opportunities for action.

Their plan, called “Building Better Lives Together”, calls for commitment targets in areas like housing, infrastructure, climate action, public transit, and the needs of rural communities.

More on the 100-day plan can be found here.

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