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FORUM: Looking to the feds to save cities (Aug. 2021)

September 8th, 2021 · No Comments

So many municipal issues require a national strategy

By Mike Layton

This federal election, the focus for cities must be on social justice and the recovery. 

Cities are where the majority of the country’s population lives and for years, important programs to support residents such as child care, protecting the environment, and substantial investment into deeply affordable housing have been underfunded. 

All of this would be made easier for Toronto to implement with a new legislative relationship for cities.

As with the municipal budget, at its core, the debate this election is about services for people, and you need not look further than the budget to determine the government’s priorities. 

As we recover we will also be faced with choices as to the kind of jobs we are creating, what infrastructure investments we are making, and the projects we are funding. 

It is critical for our future as a city that we invest in measures that address, not compound, the climate crisis and inequality. We must build resilience.

Earlier this year the government announced a plan for universal child care which was met with substantial support across the political spectrum. 

As a recovery tool, child care will be a massive boon for the economy and ensure many women and parents are able to return to the workforce knowing that they have safe, affordable child care. 

There will be no recovery without women and steps must be taken to see the funding of universal childcare through to implementation.

The city also needs support investing in measures that improve resilience and protect against future threats including the climate crisis. 

We must recognize that climate action can accelerate economic recovery and improve social equity. 

There must be commitments that national governments (not just our own), regional, and international institutions provide cities with the necessary supports to deliver a healthy, equitable, and sustainable recovery. 

The City of Toronto will be reporting on TransformTO’s next stage in October and support for the initiatives detailed in that report will be monumental in the climate change fight on a local level.

Finding affordable housing in Toronto continues to be a major challenge for the majority of residents. 

We simply do not have enough supportive, and deeply affordable housing to meet their needs. The city needs help acquiring and operating more housing options that will help keep people off the streets and in safe, secure living arrangements. 

We can quickly replicate the modular housing initiatives, and build out a more robust support system with substantial investment from the federal government. 

Raising the floor of the most precariously housed will benefit all residents as affordable housing options appropriate to one’s income will become more readily available. This is an oversimplification, but we need to start with those who are in the most need.

Lastly, the province’s ability to control and meddle in municipal affairs must come to an end. 

If they are unwilling to support municipalities to make the changes that will better serve residents, then they need to stop micromanaging our decision-making processes. 

From MZOs to approve developments on the whim of the minister, to suspending our noise by-laws, to the control over planning processes and interference in the election cycle, none of this is making life easier for current and future residents. 

We need a new relationship that will support Toronto and other municipalities fairly.

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Mike Layton is the city councillor for Ward 11, University—Rosedale.


Tags: Annex · Opinion