Mayors join Miller's one cent of GST campaign
The mayors of Canada's 22-largest cities joined Toronto's campaign for a cut of GST revenues.
Two months ago, Mayor David Miller launched a campaign to convince the federal government that Toronto should receive one cent of every six collected in the Goods and Services Tax.
A unanimous decision by mayors meeting in Toronto Thursday said they all wanted a piece of the GST pie. The group said consistent funding is crucial if Canadian cities are to improve infrastructure and public transit while attracting business and staying competitive.
Calgary Mayor David Bronconnier said the group know it "takes time."
"But we're united and we know we will succeed."
He added that the money would yield about $2 billion for the group's member cities, or $5 billion per year for all municipalities in Canada.
Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell said the caucus of big city mayors appreciates support the feds have already given through efforts such as sharing the federal gasoline tax and extending that formula beyond what it was.
"However, the cities are looking for an updated fiscal arrangement that will really provide predictable and long-term and sustainable funding for the future for Canadian communities,'' Fennell said.
A single penny of GST revenues translates into big bucks for cities on an individual basis.
Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay said his city stands to get about $275 million out of the deal, which would go a long way towards improving some of the city's six priorities.
"The citizens were very clear. They want a clean city, they want the best possible infrastructure, they want good service from the 29,000 city staff, they want affordable social housing, they want a decent public transit system and finally they want to sacrifice some energy to create jobs in Montreal,'' Tremblay said.
"All we're asking is just give us a little bit so we can create new wealth.''
For smaller cities in the group, getting the GST revenue would not mean big revenues.
St. John's Mayor Andy Wells said the extra cash would help modernize his city.
"We got traffic lights that we bought from some city on the mainland 15 years ago and we're still using them because we don't have the money to replace them in the context of other priorities,'' he said.
"It can make a big difference to us in terms of improving the quality of our infrastructure.''
Miller was careful to say the request is not a campaign against the federal Conservative government.
"It's nothing frankly to do with whatever party's in power," Miller said. "Whoever's in power has to answer to the people of Canada as to why they're not investing properly in Canada."
Miller announced his one cent campaign during last year's municipal election campaign. After the election he launched city-wide promotions to raise awareness of the idea and put pressure on the federal government.
With a report from CTV's Desmond Brown and files from The Canadian Press