The Canadian Federation of Municipalities is taking an active role in the federal election and candidates in this riding are proving to be sympathetic to many of the issues the federation has raised.
Centre Wellington Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj has been participating on the FCM for several years now, and she said in an interview on the weekend that the federation has a number of issues she hopes candidates will address.
The first is infrastructure and how municipalities across the country can cope with their needs. The FCM did a studying showing that there is $123-billion in infrastructure deficiencies across the country. There has been a lot of funding from the provincial and federal governments over the last two years, but much of it is scheduled to stop.
Ross-Zuj said the federation not only wants some of that funding continued, but also a seat at the table to determine what is funded and how.
Ross-Zuj said the second thing the federation would like to see is sustainable and predictable funding from the federal government. She said the gas tax is currently coming, but it is scheduled to stop in 2014 and municipalities need to know in advance what funding is coming.
She said the federation would also like to see a federal cabinet post dedicated strictly to rural issues.
The federation has received $500-million in environmental funding from the federal government and is providing grants to municipalities for green projects. She is hoping that will continue.
She added that other issues of “huge” concern is affordable housing and transportation.
The Advertiser attempted to contact all the candidates in the Wellington Halton Hills Riding about those proposals.
Jeffrey Streutker, of the Christian Heritage Party, said that infrastructure funding is covered in his party’s platform. He said it is based on what happened after World War II when many service people returned home and jobs were needed. The federal government told the Bank of Canada to provide infrastructure loans to municipalities at no interest charges.
He said that not only got people employed, but also rebuilt Canada’s infrastructure.
Streutker said his party has no position on continuing the gas tax funding, but it would likely consider it.
As for a rural minister, he said that would be interesting and also be considered.
As for an environmental fund, he said, “We might evaluate it and make sure it goes to proper things.
Conservative Michael Chong cited his party’s work through the Build Canada program. “We will work with the FCM and municipalities across Canada,” he said.
As for the gas tax, he said it is party policy that it would not only continue but be passed into law, so it would be predictable.
As for a rural cabinet minister, he said that would be a decision of the Prime Minister, but he noted his party’s track record reflects its commitment to that part of the country.
“We’ve always believed in a strong voice for rural Canada.” As for continued environmental funding, Chong said, “We’re going to work with the FCM. Environmental funding can be part of that discussion.
As for transportation and affordable housing. Chong said both are important issues. He cited the return of GO Transit to Acton, Guelph, and Kitchener, and said there would be increased investment in transit for rail corridors so goods can be shipped to market. The other candidates did not respond to messages.
The NDP candidate is student Anastasia Zavarella. The Advertiser has been unable to contact her.