16 January 2009

On Economic Stimulus and Empowering Communities

Have written about this issue before and no doubt will do so again. Last time it was within the context of addressing the Liberal Party's urban caucus committee report.

This time it's to comment on this report.

The mayors of Canada's largest cities ... have written an open letter to premiers and territorial leaders to say that cities are ready to invest in such things as public transit, roads, affordable housing, libraries, community centres and recreational facilities. But they want the money to be delivered in the same way as the federal gas-tax fund, which lets them decide at the municipal level which projects get funding - as opposed to applying for the money on a case-by-case basis...

The gas-tax fund ... goes straight to municipal priorities, [Toronto mayor David Miller] said. "The municipalities choose the future that their citizens need. That's democratic and it's absolutely right."

...When asked how the federal government can be sure that infrastructure money delivered in the same way as the gas tax would go to projects that create jobs, Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay said cities are both responsible and accountable.

Sounds reasonable to me! Of course it would, given that I consider the political power structure in this country to be ass backwards.

IF municipalities fail to fund projects which their citizens need and want, you can bet said citizens will go after them post-haste. There'll be reams spent in letters to the editor, citizens parked on doorsteps and council meetings over-populated with irate voters. Citizens in communities can reach their local politicians faster and more effectively than they can provincial and federal politicians who live and hold power in distant realms.

It's amusing that ALL but one of the comments over at G&M (mine) - we may assume commenters are over-represented by conservative types - argue against the mayors' request.

Instead, these folks would prefer that the reins of power be held firmly by Daddy Harper and family. He is to be The Decider.

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