Jobs, transit on agenda as mayors from Canada’s largest cities meet in Toronto

By on February 6, 2015

Naheed Nenshi (Facebook)
Naheed Nenshi (Facebook)

TORONTO — Jobs and transit will be on the agenda today as the mayors of Canada’s largest cities come together in Toronto.

Nineteen mayors — including Toronto’s John Tory, Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson and Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi — are set to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference.

Nenshi, who was recently named the No. 1 mayor in the world by an international urban research institute, says the meeting is particularly important in light of the economic downturn and the upcoming federal election.

He says it’s time big city mayors make a “serious commitment” to fighting gridlock, providing better housing and boosting the economy.

One of the recurring themes at recent conferences has been what the mayors say is a lack of consistent funding from Ottawa.

Tory says that in order to support jobs and growth, cities need “predictable partnerships with the federal and provincial governments,” particularly when it comes to building transit.

The newly elected leader of Canada’s largest city says it’s important the mayors present a united front in dealing with the federal government.

“Toronto has not really been present at these meetings for a number of years, and I don’t think that’s because we have any better ideas than other people, but I think we should be there and I think we can learn from being there from the other mayors who have similar challenges with transit and infrastructure,” he said.

“And I think it puts us in a better position to convince the federal government and the provincial government — but in particular the federal government — to form that partnership, to have that more stable, consistent funding to build the country.”

Tory’s scandal-plagued predecessor, Rob Ford, participated in last year’s meeting in Ottawa, drawing hordes of autograph and photo seekers.

With files from Bill Graveland in Calgary