By Kevin Woodhouse
At a recent meeting of the FCM (Canadian Federation of Municipalities) held in Niagara, Ontario, President Claude Dauphin finished off his one year mandate as president but will remain as past-president over the coming year.
The Suburban spoke to the Lachine borough mayor about his accomplishments over the past year and the challenges Canadian cities and municipalities face in the coming years.
Roughly two weeks after Dauphin became president of FCM last year, the railway accident in Lac Mégantic that caused the death of 47 people made national headlines, prompting the FCM to work on strengthening rail safety throughout the country.
With 70 percent of all exports moved by rail, the Pan Canadian Municipal Railway Safety Working Group was formed. “We cannot stop using trains but we have to assure they are safe,” said Dauphin noting that communities like Lachine, Ville St. Pierre, Côte St. Luc, Beaconsfield and Pointe Claire have rail lines right beside residences.
Another important dossier Dauphin worked on while as president was the country’s “housing crisis for social and rental housing. In new construction, only 10 percent is being built for rental properties and in a city like Montreal where half of all tenants rent, that is a problem.
“Condominium projects are great but not everyone has $300,000 to afford one,” said Dauphin. “There needs to be more help from the provincial and federal governments because many social housing programs at the federal level will expire in the next five years, a loss of $1.7 billion in funding where 5000,000 low income renters could become homeless.”
In order for many communities to survive, especially those with less than 1,000 inhabitants (the province of Quebec has a 1,000 such small towns), in the future they will require more grants from the provincial and federal governments.
“Seventy-five percent of all municipalities are less than 10,000 residents,” said Dauphin. “Even to apply for federal grants where studies and experts are required, many of the smaller cities don’t even have engineers on staff so help will be needed because trying to get more tax revenue from property values has reached its ceiling.”
Dauphin told the assembled at the 77th annual FCM congress in Niagara that “municipal leaders from one ocean to the next will get the message out for assured funding, a topic that will come up in the next federal election.”
ga(‘create’, ‘UA-45892555-1’, ‘robertfrankmedia.blogspot.com’);