Join CUI’s Mary W. Rowe, Mayor Don Iveson from Edmonton, Mayor Brian Bowman from Winnipeg, and Mayor Bonnie Crombie from Mississauga, as they discuss what difference would new legislative powers and new revenue tools make to the capacity of Canada’s cities to solving our most pressing challenges, like climate change, housing, poverty, mental health, the recovery of local economies, and the municipal revenue base?
Mayors Panel II: Cities & Tools for the Job
2021 Massey Cities Summit
From April 6-8 2021, The Massey Cities Summit 2021 brought together leaders from across Canada and the world to reimagine the municipal role in Canadian federalism, while also acknowledging the constitutional rights of First Nations.
Organised by Massey College and the Canadian Urban Institute (with much appreciated support from the Maytree Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada).
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
1. Sustainable revenue tools for 21st century cities
Bonnie Crombie, the Mayor of Mississauga, highlights the fact that the City of Toronto Act grants broader permissive authority to raise new taxes than is available to other Ontario municipalities. She argues these tools should be available to other cities in Ontario like Mississauga. Agrees Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, cities need more robust own-source revenue tools or statutorily protected revenue sharing agreements.
2. Working collaboratively and sounding the alarm
Brian Bowman, the Mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba, suggests municipalities, as the order of government closest to the ground, is by nature more accessible and transparent to residents. He stresses the importance of striking the right balance between working collaboratively with other orders of government, and communicating publicly about the ways that authority, powers, and jurisdictional limitations are not working during COVID-19.
3. Provincial leadership is needed
According to Mayor Bowman, cities need to be ‘masters of our own domain’—and as creatures of the province, absent constitutional change, we need a bold premier who is willing to lean into the opportunity to empower cities.
4. We need “smarter” money.
The mayors agree that COVID recovery is led by Canadian cities. This is not about new taxes from his perspective, it is about getting better value for the money that’s already in the system. The mayors discuss whether the property tax is regressive and fair for residents as the main source of revenue for municipalities.
5. “Conditional Metropolitanism” is key
According to Mayor Iveson, the answer is not more asymmetrical federalism. Instead, we need “conditional metropolitanism,” where federal transfers are made on the condition that provinces work collaboratively with municipalities and Indigenous governments.
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “transcription” in the subject line.
Mary Rowe [00:00:22] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute, really pleased to be here for the last session of day two of the Cities Summit being led by Massey College. We’re very pleased to be partnering with them and with the support of SSHRC and Maytree to have a conversation that has been really extraordinary in the last two days, just for the benefit of the mayors who’ve been busy advocating on behalf of the future of their cities. While you’ve been working at your desk and out in the community. Just so you know, there’s a whole bunch of folks over here that are talking about the future potential of governance in municipal government in Canada. And they’re on your side rooting for you, talking about the mechanics and the actual possibilities around the famous C word, the Constitution, and whether, in fact, that should be a should that shut down a conversation or should that be the beginning? So every constitutional fanatic that exists in Canada has been participating in this session over the last 48 hours. They’ve we’ve had lots of people coming in from international jurisdictions as well, talking about all the important components that they observe in their jurisdictions. And of course, one of the themes that’s threaded through this is the legacy of colonialism. So, I’m just going to acknowledge off the bat that I’m participating today from Toronto. The Canadian Urban Institute is a national entity. We have folks working in partners working across the country, including these three mayors who have been great supporters of CUI as we’ve been embarking on the COVID sort of recovery work, coping and now hopefully recovering work. But I happen to be in Toronto, which is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, the Chippewa and the Haudenasaunee and the Wendat peoples. And it’s home to many First Nation, Inuit, Metis peoples. And we have two treaties that are covered here, Treaty 13 signed by the Mississaugas of the Credit and Williams Treaty signed by a number of Annishnabec nations. And we have been struggling at CUI and continue to try to foster a healthy dialog about the legacy of exclusion that urbanism has reinforced. And it’s certainly been talked about in the last couple of days about whether we can actually come out from under this colonial history. And I’m anticipating, Mayor Bowman, will speak a bit about that, because you were on a podcast run by Massey and around the City Summit, around how you, I think, see reconciliation being fulfilled by a new kind of arrangement for Canada’s cities. So I’m going to call on you to do that in a sec. But just to say that this piece around equity and whether or not equity can be achieved if we were to see these changes. So I as I said, there have been several sessions starting yesterday. And I’ve been saying to people who said, well, what’s this one with the mayors about? And I said, well, this is and actually I said it to your chiefs of staff when they were asking for I said, look, I think this is the “rubber hits the road” session. I think this is three practitioners who’ve been leading their cities and dealing with very tangible challenges – housing, mental health, transit, poverty, equity, land use, all the kinds of trade offs that you folks have to navigate all the time with your councils and with your constituents. And I think that part of why this conversation is important to have you in is that it’s all well and good for academics to be yakking on and on about. Look, the perfect solution would be this or why do we let the Constitution affect us like that? I think we’re looking to you three to talk to us about if you had different tools, if you had different governance arrangements, if you had more powers, would you be-would you be doing things differently? Could you actually meet the needs of your residents differently? Could you realize the aspirations of your city differently? I asked this very starkly in a meeting last week with with city managers across the country about if-if cities were if municipal government was empowered differently-I appreciate it’s a very harsh question to put- if you were empowered differently, would fewer people have died from COVID? And there was a sort of stunned silence to that question, I realize it’s probably not an appropriate question because we’re still fighting this and we’re still trying to keep people alive. And I know, municipal governments are on the front lines and your staff have been on the front lines improvising like crazy and trying to figure it out. So, I don’t want to be blaming in any way, you know, but I do think there’s that question about if you if we were configured differently in this country, could we solve our problems more quickly? So really pleased to have Don Iverson from Edmonton, Bonnie Crombie from Mississauga and Brian Bowman from Winnipeg. Three of the beacons of municipal leadership in this country to shed light and because I’m going to go with beauty before age, I’m going to ask Bonnie first. So, Mayor Crombie, can you set us off? Just give us a sense of what your perspective is in Mississauga and in Peel Region, where you are in a multi-jurisdictional area with a region and you’ve got one of the more complicated scenarios, so I’m going to go to you. And then I’ll go to you, Don, and then I’ll go to you, Brian. OK, so Bonnie-
Bonnie Crombie [00:05:13] Mary you first want me to respond about what we would have done differently with the with COVID?
Mary Rowe [00:05:17] Sure. Yeah.
Bonnie Crombie [00:05:19] Let me just first say as well that we are Canada’s sixth largest city, the third largest in Ontario, because people think of Mississauga’s over some suburb. But we’re absolutely not. We’re a powerhouse with Toronto, Ottawa, then Mississauga. There are 95,000 businesses here. Seventy five or four to five hundred and twelve hundred are multinational’s. We are a driver of the economy. We have the second-we are the second largest life sciences industries in all of Canada right here in Mississauga. Plus we have the nation’s largest airport, which of course is a big draw for industry and manufacturing. So that’s where we are. What would we have done differently if we were now? So I should put in perspective as well that we’re two tier government here. So not only federal, provincial, municipal, I unfortunately have something called the region of Peel. And there are three municipalities that are part of the region appeal. Mississauga is the largest and we found 60 percent of the costs. And let me tell you, we only have 50 percent of the votes. So we’re a little touchy about it. And so we’re with a Brampton, which is Canada’s ninth largest city, and Caledon, which is a town of 66,000 people. And I will share with you that they bring five people, five councillors to the regional table and their town is the size of one of my wards. So we’re a little touchy, as you can tell now. How would things have changed if we could have controlled the, you know, the really the organization and the-the response, the COVID response ourselves? I think we would have done a lot of things differently. I would have worked with the provincial the federal government to look to look for manufacturing of the vaccine here, because we certainly have the capacity and we have the size and scale of companies that could have done it and I would have gone there first. But, you know, sometimes this is all good in retrospect.
Mary Rowe [00:07:16] I know. I mean, I know.
Bonnie Crombie [00:07:17] And those cautious lessons which should’ve had domestic production.
Mary Rowe [00:07:23] I mean, I’m cautious. Yeah. I mean-
Bonnie Crombie [00:07:26] -and then transparency and the outlay. So, our situation here is we have a lot of community spread. Much of it is generated because of the nature of employment. We have a lot of manufacturing, warehousing, food processing, all of that. All of the factory workers are here, the big Amazon plant that had 900 cases of COVID, Canada Post, et cetera. So, we would have I think we would have taken matters differently rather than vaccinate by age cohort groups, which is what we’re doing in Ontario. I think we would have gone to the most vulnerable workers first that are really the source of the spread and passing it to households and into the community through community spreads. So I think we would have moved on that quicker. Of course, you want to get your 80 year olds, 70 year olds plus, but at the same time, you know, what about the teachers? What about the transit drivers? What about the factory workers in manufacturing, warehousing, etc.? Because that’s the source of the spread here. It’s different because of the density, because of the number of people that live in Mississauga’s 800,000 people Peel Region is 1.5. So it’s the density along with Toronto. That’s why we continue to be the hotspots in Peel and in Toronto- driving the numbers- of case numbers right across the country. We have been in lockdown now a four and a half months and we’ve just announced yet another stay home lockdown. We haven’t been out of lockdown since November, longer than any other jurisdiction in North America. So why don’t I leave it there, let my counterparts respond as well. And I’m sure I’ll think of a few other things to say.
Mary Rowe [00:09:00] It’s-it’s so interesting what you’re suggesting, because some of it is also about data that I mean, we know from CUI, we’ve been publishing these reports every hundred days and we just couldn’t get disaggregated data. It wasn’t. Insistently available, so, you know-.
Bonnie Crombie [00:09:14] There’s going to be lockdowns, Mary, you know, they’re not effective unless they’re they’re applied region wide. So unless you’re in the Golden Horseshoe and apply the lockdown throughout the Golden Horseshoe, people move. We know that. We know that through anonymous aggregate cell phone data that if Mississauga’s is closed, people are going to go to Oakville or the restaurants or Milton to shop in the outlet malls and the people in Toronto go up to Markham. And in Brampton they go up to Vaughan, whether it’s shops, restaurants. So unless you apply it and as they’ve done this time right across the province, they’re not effective.
Mary Rowe [00:09:46] Yeah. So, Don, I guess this is an interesting question that Bonnie’s highlighting in a really profound way, that if local knowledge was the starting place for these policy decisions, could- could you imagine? I mean, you sit as the Chair of the Big City Mayors’ Caucus. You’re-you’re talking to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister every week. What’s your sense of how things could be different if you had different powers and different resources?
Don Iveson [00:10:13] Well, Bonnie raises some really interesting points about some of the metropolitan scale challenges in Edmonton. There are 13 municipalities. I represent about a million people. I’ve got 12 other mayors I work with closely who represent another 400,000. Throughout COVID, we kept trying our best to coordinate our messaging to our public because they work and live in borderless ways. And so this is the limitation of, you know, the idea of if mayors were queens and kings, wouldn’t things be better? Well, of what? Right. If I was the governor of northern Alberta, would I have made different decisions? Yeah, I would have closed things up a lot sooner in the fall. And, but, the mayor of Calgary and I were in this showdown with the province back in November where we were looking at using our emergency powers, which are different than in Ontario. We don’t have the same direct oversight over public health, so our emergency powers are more suited to natural disasters, which we have lots of here in Alberta. And so we actually looked at using our by-law powers to enact restrictions if the province wouldn’t ultimately and tragically later than they should have- the problems were dragged kicking and screaming to putting those those restrictions in-in just before Christmas. But I think it exposes some of the the jurisdictional limitations that we’ve run into. I think-I think places where authority is very clearly delineated and where you don’t have the particularly in a province like ours, where you’ve got not just urban and rural, but you’ve got mid-sized cities experiencing different conditions and you’ve got two large cities that through the pandemic have been hit at different times. And so, the pressure on the government caucus and cabinet, which is more from Calgary, was different when our case counts were way worse in Edmonton than they are yesterday when when things were finally locked down because things are getting worse in Calgary again. So the point is, I think rooting it in at the metropolitan scale and then building our governance around that, so that we can not have these urban rural divides and not allow a place like this to get sort of oscillate back and forth between Calgary hegemony and Edmonton hegemony, but say, OK, there’s sort of a catchment and there’s 15 metropolitan regions in this country that drive its economy where 90 percent of people live, where 95 percent of GDP happens. And not to discount for a minute the importance of rural and remote and northern communities where resources are are from and heritage is maintained. But it’s all part of a larger Canadian ecosystem. And I think we’ve allowed federalism and these lines on a map. I mean, Albertans complain a lot about cockamamie ideas out of Ottawa, but most Albertans don’t realize that Alberta is a cockamamy idea from Ottawa is a construct. It was-it was made by law in 1985. Before that it was the Northwest Territories, or as I like to call it, the good old days. So, you know, honestly, their points in this crisis where I wanted, where I thought to myself, you know, and when the Buffalo Declaration came out, which if you want to read the best denunciation of the Buffalo Declaration, look at what the chiefs from Treaty Six said and know exactly how far it’s going to go. But I started thinking and actually Mayor Clark from Saskatoon and I were kind of thinking about an April Fool’s joke last year, which COVID completely swept away where we were thinking, you know, really what we got to do is just take the line between Saskatchewan and Alberta and rotate it 90 degrees. So the the nice people from Saskatoon and Edmonton can do our stuff. The folks in southern Saskatchewan, southern Alberta can complain all they want for that gets them. We’ve got the trees, the oil, the gas, the trees. I mentioned trees, the fresh water-
Mary Rowe [00:14:03] The trees.
Don Iveson [00:14:04] Yeah, we got- and so we’ll be fine. Right. But- or just revert to territorial status at this point. But no doubt in my mind, that if-if the Premiers and the Prime Minister weren’t engaged in this ridiculous Canadian dance, which I think COVID has exposed for us, fewer lives would have been lost and the economy would be in better shape.
Mary Rowe [00:14:26] It’s like a differentiated federalism or something or what what Bruce Katz is calling a perpendicular federalism because he feels challenged by it in the US as well. Brian, let’s talk with you. You’ve got a particular-each of you has a very particular circumstance. And I appreciate both Bonnie and Don situated this- their city in the region that it operates in and in the political environment it operates in. So can you do the same for us in Winnipeg? And then I see that Nathalie Des Rosier has a question and so does Charles Myers. So we’ll go to you, Brian. Just give us a sense of the context from Winnipeg, could you?
Brian Bowman [00:14:56] Yeah, sure. I mean, it’s great to join everybody. I’m coming from Treaty One Territory, Traditional Homeland of the Metis, the source of our drinking water from Shoal Lake Treaty Three nation or Treaty Three territory, I should say. Yeah, I mean, we’re-we’re in the right in the geographic centre longitudinally of Canada where East meets West. We are the two year defending Grey Cup champions here in Winnipeg, which we-we hope there’s a season this year. But, you know what’s interesting about about COVID, when I take the comments, both Mayor Crombie and Mayor Iveson and I’m going to revert to first names because we that’s typically how we refer to each other. But Don and Bonnie are raising great points. What’s unique about Winnipeg is unlike Ontario, where there’s a number of major centres and two major centres in Alberta, we’re it in-in Manitoba. We have, of course, Selkirk and Brandon and Steinbach and other communities. But the majority of Manitobans all live in the city of Winnipeg. And so that-that does present some unique opportunities and challenges in respect to the relationship with the provincial government. What I would say to answer your question, though, Mary, is if-if the municipal governments were really running and calling the shots and the COVID response and recovery, I think what you would see you would see is much greater responsiveness, openness, transparency and accountability, because that’s what municipal governments do and do every single day. We have to be more accountable because we’re more accessible and we’re more transparent than any level of government. And I think that would have lend itself to being more responsive in a timely way to some of the issues that we’re talking about. Don mentioned, of course, moving quicker. Bonnie, in terms of even some of the lockdowns and things we move first on masks. We move before our provincial government even moved because we could see what was coming and we could respond in a much more nimble way. We have we’ve had our emergency operations centre open since last year. It’s the longest activation of our EOC in the history of the city, Winnipeg. The province closed theirs last summer. Like we’ve-we’ve been on the ground. And of course, when you’re talking about all of the functions of government that provide the services that you need during the time of crisis they’re at the municipal level, by and large, not exclusively, but by and large, clean, safe drinking water, emergency services. When you call 911, we answer the call. And so, we have been lending our our insights to the provincial government on traffic management around vaccine centres, traffic flows. We’ve been responding to emergencies in our personal care homes when-when the provincial systems failed to to epic levels and obviously having deadly consequences. People called 911-they called the city of Winnipeg, in our case, to go-to go answer that call. And so, I think what you would see- I think what you would see is is a nimbleness and an innovation that we’re not seeing we’re not seeing at our provincial level and the outcomes which we get measured by in our budgets. We get measured on outcomes and scrutinized more on outcomes than on rhetoric than other levels of government. I think that people would demand and I think we’d be more responsive to some of the issues right now. Our vaccine rollout is-is-is-is hitting some some pretty big challenges. And the outcomes have us among the lowest of provinces right now for getting shots and arms in a timely way. So we’re trying to lend. We’re trying to lend a hand. And maybe I’ll just wrap up by saying one of the challenges is because municipal leaders are consistently rated among the most trusted, we have an obligation to not rattle the community who’s looking at the government at a time of crisis to work together and is expecting us to work collaboratively. But then we also have to call things out when when they need to be called out in this this daily tension. We all have of how much do you do, you kind of sound the alarm versus just try to provide some some unity when that is genuinely needed for the benefit of our residents, and that’s a challenge that we continue to have now.
Mary Rowe [00:19:31] I mean, I feel like you’ve had to exercise extraordinary self-control, all of you, because because you just can’t, as you say, more noise, more dissent when people need certainty and they need to be reassured, I get it. So I appreciate that. But I also know that part of this conference and part of what organizations like ours are trying to do in the Massey College is leading in this particular instance is to forward think, you know, what-what what do we come out of this with? That is a systemic change that gets you into a better place so that the things that were dysfunctional before COVID that now we really see won’t be in place. So now she’s asking specifically, Bonnie, I’m going to come to you. Here’s what Nathalie asking specifically. The legal space of cities. She’s saying, is this a moment where we could rethink fiscal capacity, immunity not being overruled so that you could actually provide the leadership that you understand is the right thing to do and then the authority to make decisions? Those three areas, do you see COVID as an opportunity to advocate and make some real change? Bonnie, over to you first.
Bonnie Crombie [00:20:44] I just want to make a few comments as well, it has certainly been hamstrung for us to be part of a region when our numbers were so much lower than other municipalities in our region and we could have been in different categories of openness versus what they were. So the region was was a challenge being part of a region and also the provincial government. You know, let’s say that we don’t feel that all the decisions, as Brian was talking about Mary Rowe you were speaking about, had been based on science and data. You know, some of the decisions and definitions of essential workers, essential workplaces, what was what was chosen and why. We felt that there was a great lobby effort for some and not for others. For instance, why were-why could people get massages? But, you know, other very fundamental businesses be closed. Big boxes were open and they could sell non-essential items. Yet, small retailers had to close, as well as restaurants and personal care providers. And there was a lack of transparency too. For instance, we finally learned on the vaccine rollout. Brian just referenced it. So it occurred to me that I had been being told by our provincial partners that we had received more than our allocation of vaccine because we were a hotspot, we were the inferno. And when the numbers were finally released, it was proven that we were ten and a half percent of the population of Ontario. In Peel, we received 6.8% of the vaccine and we have 20% of the cases. So without data to make decisions and full transparency, because not until that transparency where we are able to right that wrong and insist that more vaccine be sent to the hot spots. We shouldn’t be receiving 10% of the vaccine. We should be receiving 20% of the vaccines. That’s the number of cases that we represent. But just to respond to your question, I think what people want to see and long for to have confidence is that collaboration and that cooperation between the three or four, in my case, four levels of government, they want to see us working together. They don’t want to see that the pot shots being taken from the federal government to the municipal. We’ve given you this number, this amount of vaccine, and you’ve used this or the border issue at the airports. We saw provincial government at the airport saying borders should close, there should be testing. Meanwhile, we know it’s a federal responsibility. So all that is unnecessary noise. People need to see us all working hand-in-hand, notwithstanding what what partisanship, what party you may represent. All levels of government needed to work together. So is this an opportunity to change things?
Mary Rowe [00:23:31] Well, after. After-after the crisis, you know.
Bonnie Crombie [00:23:34] After the crisis, what it’s proven is that we do need revenue tools. For instance, what was very apparent as we came out of this with 100,000,000 dollar operational deficit, we were allowed we were had the ability to mitigate about 60% of that, which was great news through a lot of measures that other governments, other levels of government didn’t have to impose, such as very strict abandonment of any kind of discretionary spending. We had to lay off 2,500 staff, no other level of government laid off people like the municipal governments. Did you know, we took cuts personally as well to our expenses.
Mary Rowe [00:24:16] It’s kind of crazy, though, don’t you find? I mean, it’s a bit crazy, Bonnie, because you’re your workforce is at the closest level of people requiring immediate support.
Bonnie Crombie [00:24:24] And we’re paying for essential workers as well for essential workers. We’re paying for essential workers. So what would have been necessary? And of course, we all know that we can’t take on debt, at least in Ontario, we can’t take on debt. So we have to run a balanced budget. No deficits. What- we can take on debt, I should say, that we can’t-we can’t run a deficit. So it’s very important that we get back to zero. And we had to lobby the federal provincial government for handouts for a safe restart funding. Otherwise, we would be in a very significant financial crisis because of our operational deficits. And of course, the airport took a big hit, their passenger counts, and that’s a big source of my revenue as well.
Mary Rowe [00:25:01] I know in transit. Right? You haven’t got transit, you haven’t got parking. You know-
Bonnie Crombie [00:25:06] We got parking, all of that. The ability to control our revenue and, you know, look for different sources, sustainable, certain long term funding that we control, not ask for handouts because I wouldn’t have been balanced if I didn’t get the handout. Right. I mean, the fact that this toll lanes, if they was given the handout.
Mary Rowe [00:25:26] And the fact is that you have to and even the fact that we have to call it a handout, you know, this is I mean, this is the dilemma. You guys have this conversation all the time in your circles. But if you go outside of our people, regular people do think that municipalities need a handout. That’s what they perceive, that somehow they need help and Don-
Bonnie Crombie [00:25:45] And they aren’t giving us those sustainable tools, those revenue tools that allow us to to build our 21st century cities. Right. Not with 19th century tools.
Mary Rowe [00:25:55] So can you take it Don? You had Rebecca Alty, the mayor of Whitehorse, on with us today. And do you do you feel that you can go back? You had a Charter. You almost had the Charter for Edmonton, Calgary, and then the new government came in. And-and, you know, Rebecca’s making this point, even though she’s the leader of a small municipality, Yellowknife. But sorry, I think I called her Whitehorse. Rebecca, forgive me. I’ve it before- Yellowknife. You know, do you think that you can have another kick at this can and get an urban development agreement or get a Charter or something, do you think. I don’t know. Do you have- I know you’re not running again, so I know you’re going to let your successor say over to, you know.
Don Iveson [00:26:38] Well, let me say, I feel a sense of unfinished business around the city Charters. Mayor Nenshi and I labored for many years with, I think, five premiers all together to get them done. And there’s still some residual charter elements. We still have a few special powers, none of them really materially assist with with revenues at this point. The most significant portion that we did have, though, that we negotiated with Rachel Notley’s government and interestingly, was supported by Jason Kenney, then in opposition- very strong support in the legislature for the fiscal component, which was essentially a revenue sharing, statutorily protected revenue sharing deal that was both ups and downs. And so, as we helped create prosperity that would help grow Alberta’s economy and the cities play an essential role in this. We get a piece of that. And we thought it was, by the way, is the arrangement that should apply to all municipalities ultimately in Alberta. And but if there was a downturn, as there often is in Alberta, that we were prepared to take that because frankly, you know, getting on the three percent average growth train with the ups and downs was better than getting it announced. At one point three billion dollars a year of municipal infrastructure- never was more than a billion- and every time we had a downturn in Alberta, it got a 20% cut. Every time the economy came back, we were lucky. We were told we were lucky to keep it against other priorities. So we saw- we never got what we were promised. And we thought a law that was supported by the then government and the opposition and then was in both parties platforms would survive and yet it didn’t. So, what that tells me is that without constitutional or some sort of super Charter protection that is beyond the whim of the legislature and three readings, there really are no guarantees for municipalities in this country. I mean, we’ve seen that from election jiggering in Toronto with the cut in the number of folks, and that’s before the Supreme Court right now. And all of us have chipped in on intervening on that, because if municipalities are going to be third class citizens, fiscally and democratically, Canadians need to know that because I think once they know that and I think they can see from this crisis how how fragile our position has been, I think many Albertans understand how what the challenges are that the cities have gone through with this particular provincial government, that there really is a time for change. Now, what does that change look like, practically speaking? I mean, I think it does involve either statutorily protected revenue sharing or more robust open source revenue. And I will say one last thing on on revenues. And I do think user fees for certain things. You know, I’ve got folks here advocating very hard for free transit when I think the action the answer is actually roadway pricing. You can’t do demand management and you can’t pay for stuff if you give everything away for free. So it really breaks my heart that so much advocacy energy is spending is being spent on an impossible dream from my perspective of free transit, when the real answer is to get pricing right so that you can build and maintain infrastructure and service it properly. And that would be roadway pricing, which is hard for people to talk about. But since I’m not running again, it’s easier for me to say it now. And we’re not going to get to our city plan goals for density and smart growth and we’re not going to get to our climate goals without it, quite frankly. So, we have to start raising the level of conversation about that in this country as an own source revenue. And then ironically, I’ve kind of come full circle on property tax because it is regressive. It is a wealth tax. The fixed income- senior or the family who’s lost one or two jobs in this pandemic still has to pay it because it’s based on the notional wealth of of whatever the building is, whether it’s for the small business or whether it’s for the family. And that-that aggressiveness, that inflexibility, that inelasticity is really not fair to people when they’re struggling. But it does make it the most stable form of taxation out there, which for an organism which for organizations that can’t run a deficit to Bonnie’s point is not a bad point of stability. Our revenues proportionately are much more stable than the other orders of government who’ve-who’ve imploded. But as they all recover, we need to sort it differently. And most importantly, we need to get to an arrangement where the resources for issues like housing, for example, actually flow to us to improve the social determinants of health. One, so we can improve purchase patient in the economy. Two, so we can improve public health outcomes outside of a pandemic, so people interact less with a public health care system that’s less and less sustainable as the population’s less healthy. And then third, when you get into a pandemic or other national crisis, you’re not having to fire more money borrowed from the future at temporary shelters, which are a bandaid not just on short term homelessness, but failed policies of colonization and systemic racism and so on and so forth. But we deal with all of those every day as mayors and every time we try to point the fingers, even jurisdictionally correct at provincial and federal governments, people tell us, don’t pass the buck. So there’s nowhere for us to hide, which is why I think we’re the best bet to make Canadians’ dollars go further to get results all across the board in all of these areas.
Mary Rowe [00:31:56] Don, just can we take property tax as an example, just just in terms of something that for which I’m more familiar because of CUI work, if you decided that coming out of COVID, you were going to have to alter the relationship of property tax to independent businesses on Main Streets versus other other parts of the city, am I right that, in fact you would not be able to do that, that that province would have to enable you to do it?
Don Iveson [00:32:24] Well, under some recent legislation, the new government has given more authority and flexibility for property tax incentives, but it’s really geared towards attracting new investment rather than sort of discriminating between different taxes. And how do you and how do you discriminate between a chain franchise that’s owned by a family from your community and a small business? So, you get into a lot of issues of equity and taxonomy and actually rolling out. And that’s why we tend to believe that support for business in terms of variable taxation is much more easy to finesse and fair across something like a metropolitan catchment to be administered provincially or federally. So that said, we do have some additional flexibility on that now in Alberta. Whether we would use it in that way, I’m I’m not sure, because at the end of the day, it isn’t, strictly speaking, the business that pays the tax. It’s the owner of the building who pays the tax, who has this asset. Now, they may charge it or pass it along and that may eat into their their rent. Practically speaking, it’s a tenant who makes it viable to pay that tax generates the value that’s taxable in the first place. But, that’s not a clear answer to your question. But I think we every time we’ve looked at this because it’s our instinct to say how can we support we tend instead of looking at tax abatements, which tend to be longitudinal, to look at grant programs for direct relief, which is which is more we focused on in terms of business support.
Mary Rowe [00:34:00] And I see a question from Rebbeca Alty, who understand is the mayor of Yellowknife, saying that she had this debate in council yesterday about could she could they not, in fact, tax chain stores differently than independents? And this is- this these levels of detail that regular folk have no idea that you’re trying to create. You’re trying to create certain kinds of outcomes and realities on your main streets. Brian, can you talk to us a little bit about the fiscal capacity of the question? Nathalie is pushing on it in the chat and saying, would it- do you want a new kind of equalization? Do you want a different kind of formula or-or do you want to have your own tools? And I’m a voter and I’m going to hold you responsible for how you collect my money and how you spend it.
Brian Bowman [00:34:42] We should be master masters of our own domain, the fact that we get such substantive operating and capital grants from provincial governments. And this year we got bailed out by the federal government, which-which-which really helped ensure that the critical services that we offer during a crisis were maintained. But the fact that that’s necessary should amplify the dysfunction and unsustainability of the current model. I think to answer your question, though, that-that you initiated this this round on, which is, you know, can there be improvements? And I’m paraphrasing, can there be improvements going forward or coming out of this? I think one of the- one of the effects of the pandemic is individuals and families are reassessing what’s important to them. And that that I think I can just speak for my family has been healthy. I think cities and those that love cities like we all do are also having that same conversation. And I think we’re-we’re reassessing what cities mean and how we can make them stronger and more resilient for the residents that we serve. And so, a lot of robust discussions about not just transit, but active transportation and and so many other important topics that I know are canvased by everybody on the call on a regular basis. We’re having those discussions. And I do expect that we’ll be able to strengthen how we provide services to our residents going forward as a result of of how we’ve had to adjust during the pandemic, because we’re actively, like a lot of municipalities, looking at, OK, what what makes sense, not just in a pandemic, but just as smart city building going forward? To answer your question, though, on the fiscal, though, the question really should be raised to the premiers. And because we are creatures of the province, until we get a premier who says I’m going to lead and we’re going to use our municipalities to to lead us and give them skin in the game so that they’re focused on the things that we all say we want them focused on- though, they’ll say they want us focused on economic development, but then they won’t give you a piece of the pie to incentivize councils about job creation, employment data and the things that we really should be debating more until you get a premier who says we’re going to lead- that we’re going to lead the country on this. It’s not fundamentally going to be changed.
Mary Rowe [00:37:10] If one of you could run for premier, maybe that’s the answer. Don, Don, just saying. Bonnie, one of you, I think. I think the dilemma, though, is what tools? Here’s- here’s what I think is the dilemma. You guys are saying we want more tools, we want more money, but then you end up being an obsequious position going to the provinces saying, please, please. So, I don’t know how to get rid of that dynamic so that you just take it, you know, that people don’t give power. They what is that? You got to take it. Go ahead, Brian.
Brian Bowman [00:37:46] Yeah, I actually don’t need more money. I need smarter money. Residents are tapped out. They’re getting taxed enough. And and we all know that we’re going to have to pay the piper with the debt that’s being put on by both federal and provincial governments. So, I actually don’t think- municipal governments are good at working within the framework that they have in terms of the financial dollars. We’ll make decisions that are smart. Of course, everybody like more money, but give us skin in the game. And so, to Don’s point about property taxes, I’ve been a critic like him. Property taxes are from feudal times. They’re archaic, they’re regressive. There are a dumb form of taxation. To Don’s point, though, one of the things that the pandemic has shown us is the stability for governments. But, if we look at it through-through the residents’ lens, give us a skin in the game in terms of maybe consumption taxes or something else, and maybe it’s a blend of the two to create that that cushion for municipalities. But, then you need a premier who has courage. We haven’t really seen a premier that actually has the leadership skills or the courage to make fundamental changes so that the recovery is led in Canadian cities based on the things that we all say and talk about during during elections.
Mary Rowe [00:39:02] Well, feel free, all three of you, to use this platform to make an announcement of your candidacy. We’d be delighted to hear you. Go ahead Bonnie.
Bonnie Crombie [00:39:09] That’s where those two are going. That’s where those two are going. I wondered, too early for you guys to retire. I think we get rid of the provinces. That’s what we do. I mean, we did a couple of education missions to Europe. One was to Sweden and a lot of the countries in Europe and Mary, you’ll know this. They have regional governments, but the municipalities get all the funding. They get a share of the income tax. You know, that’s like- I’m going to move, there’s light here happening on my face. Municipalities get a share of the income tax. That’s where we should be going.
Mary Rowe [00:39:38] Do you want it? Do you want that? Do you want that? Do you want a share of income tax?
Bonnie Crombie [00:39:42] I think we all agree that property tax is regressive. I mean, how much can we increase an individual’s property tax each year? In Mississauga we’re really fortunate. We’re very strong business tax base. So could you shift the burden to the businesses and take it away from property? I don’t think you’d want to. We would put that burden on business or they’ll find somewhere else to land. But we’re about 65/35. So, we’re doing pretty well. And when I look at where our revenue comes from, this will probably be similar. And if not, let me know. But we’re under 60%. 57%, our property taxes are our flow of revenue. Our user fees are 20%. Provincial gas tax, other revenues and transfers under 10%, 9-9 and a bit place. POAs, other revenues finds 5% payment in lieu of taxes that I get from the airport rate for dividends from our utility. 2% and just others 3. So, you see that we’re not even we’re just over 50% on our property taxes. So, we’ve had this discussion, Mary, you know, because you’ve been party to it on those other taxation tools for cities here in Ontario and what would that look like. And we all know Hazel, my predecessor and David Miller came out with the one cent GST and that didn’t go anywhere. And then we had Aimo asking the province for, what, one percent of the GST? And that didn’t go anywhere. And then we had Kathleen Wynne, who you worked for- she- you had- you did the study and there were a number of revenue tools that were examined very closely. And you narrowed it down to 4. The 1% of a regional HST. Parking levy of 25%- 25 cents on a commercial lot owners, a GTHA wide 5 cent gas tax at 15% increased on development charges. Well, we don’t like that because obviously that would make development go elsewhere and they would stop building. And we know that with those four revenue tools, we would have had two- two billion dollars a year to distribute among cities. But it’s always perceived as an increase in taxation. And nobody wants to stand up and say, we’re increasing your taxes, we’re giving these tax authority. Now, the largest inequity here in Ontario, there’s something called the Toronto Act. And John Tory has a number of taxation tools that are only available to him that none of the rest of us do. And the big ones which are significant- land transfer tax on real estate would-would mean one hundred million to me. Vehicle registration tax. Then, there is a parking tax, hotel tax, land value capture, etc., number of taxation tools that only the city of Toronto has that none of the rest of us do. And I don’t know why we don’t. I think they feel that we wouldn’t raise our taxes adequately. There is some discussion that Toronto doesn’t because they have cross subsidized with these other tools. So, don’t give them to other cities or they won’t be responsible in their tax increases or whatever that is. They can’t manage their money. And we all know that that’s not true. And I think we’re the best fiscal managers, the municipalities, and we’re not permitted to run deficits. And so, of course, we don’t accept what.
Mary Rowe [00:43:07] Bonnie. Bonnie. What about what about if we move to a place and I’m interested whether Don thinks this is feasible with his negotiations with the federal government or the provinces for that matter, what would happen if we move to a place where a municipality could opt in? In other words, there were- in other words, the things that you’re saying are out of reach because they’re only available to the city of Toronto. If we, the city-
Bonnie Crombie [00:43:30] We said that, Mary. Give us that suite of tools and let our councils decide which is appropriate for our city or our region and for us to employ.
Mary Rowe [00:43:38] Right. So let me just go to Don, because, Don, when when CUI was in Edmonton in the fall and we had us a whole week of our CUI local program, as you know, and we had a public session with you and you said, I want my other regional mayors to be on the session. Small communities- Red Deer, others and Grande Prairie, I think. And they said, let us choose the tools that we want to use. They didn’t like the paternalism of only a big city, right? What would it take, in this country, to get us into an environment where a municipal government could, as Bonnie just suggested, go to their council for accountability and you would have access to the tools that you choose to deploy? What would it take to make that possible?
Don Iveson [00:44:21] Well, absent constitutional change would take exactly what Brian was describing, which is a premier and a provincial government that wanted to lean into its strengths and opportunity and saw and this is a good conservative principle, the opportunity to delegate through subsidiarity to local authorities and their partners to get results. And so, I’m with Brian on this point that this is not about new taxes from my perspective. This is about getting way better value for the money that’s already in the system. The feds have about two thirds of everyone’s money. The provinces have a little over a quarter. Municipalities have, you know, maybe eight cents, maybe fourteen when you count all the transfers. But when you survey Canadians, it’s been a few years since the latest data, I saw this, Canadians estimate that the feds have about half their money, provinces have about a quarter and municipalities have about a quarter. And they trust us the most with their money compared to the province and the feds. So, I think Canadians have spoken and that clearly they’re vastly overestimating what we’re getting done with or the amount of money that we’re using to get the results that they trust the most. So, to give a tangible example and one of the reasons why I think, you know, municipalities in Ontario and Toronto in particular need extra resources is because they got downloaded housing without the resources to fund the mandate and that loads especially hard on Toronto. And as a centre city, you’ve got extra loads related to policing the inner city and so on and so forth that are really that sort of epicentre challenges that big, big cities need help with. And Bonnie’s got her fair share of those, too and not meaning to suggest that Toronto doesn’t have those issues in all of its large urban centres because it’s a real polycentric city that way, but-but the point here is that if we actually got downloaded some of these tasks, the provinces are getting fairly mixed results for their taxpayers dollars with if the mandate and the resources- with statutory and ideally constitutional protection accompanying the mandate, I’m sure we could get better results in an area like housing. Which, by the way, would save provinces a ton of money on health care and justice two of their most expensive line items, which, by the way, the federal government maintains it’s awkward and tense relationships with provinces by giving them fifty five billion dollars a year in the health and social transfer to get these mediocre results at best for Canadians. If they gave us a tenth of that and the mandate to actually get things done, we could do more to save money in the health care system than the premiers are asking for in additional handouts from the federal government right now. So I think the money is in the system, the capacity and the trust is on the ground at the local level, we’ve got some missing pieces about metropolitan governance to even out and make sure that everybody in our metropolitan area is getting a piece of the action through a consumption or an income tax or some some some revenue that’s coming from the current economy, not just from a stagnant wealth underlying it. That’s where I’d want to see growth in revenues and I’d want to see those pooled at a metropolitan scale and functional because the homelessness problem in Edmonton isn’t Edmonton’s homeless problem- it has a catchment of all across northern Alberta. And a good province would see all that and use Charter mechanisms and regional governance mechanisms to even that out in ways that support better outcomes for vulnerable people and better economic outcomes for taxpayers. And I think we can get there. It’s a-it’s a-lack of-it’s a lack of commitment at the provincial level because we have a federal government that I think sees all this but doesn’t know how to work around this hard wired fifty five billion dollar entitlement mentality for mixed results at best from the premiers.
Mary Rowe [00:48:12] Let’s go to Brian’s guerrilla strategy, which is to get a premier to be bold. I mean, you know, cities are great at pilots, right? Cities, no pilots better than anybody. That’s how you make things change and I think what Don just suggested is we need a pilot, we need we need a provincial government to say yes to taking a risk to solve a problem, they’ve got to see a political win in it, I guess. Right? How do you imagine I mean, a lot of cities now talk about just getting more money from the feds and more attention from the feds. Brian, you’re saying something a little different. You’re saying I want to bring premier.
Brian Bowman [00:48:46] I think there’s an opportunity right now for a premier that is prepared to be bold and visionary and to basically say, you know what, the economic recovery is going to be led in the major cities in Canada. I, as a Canadian, I want to see Mississauga, Edmonton, I want to see Toronto succeed. These are Canadians. I hope folks want to see Winnipeg succeed as well. And and and so but you need a you need a premier who’s going to say, you know what, we’re going to we’re going-to we’re going to create a structure to allow- to like I mean, right now on our floor of council, we can’t have discussions about about the real issues that our residents would expect us to, to Don’s point, would expect us to be debating. They’re not the right issues all the time. And they’re not job creation. They’re not economic activity.
Mary Rowe [00:49:40] Why? Why?
Brian Bowman [00:49:42] Well because our- we have skin in the game for new developments. That’s where that’s-that’s what we’re incentivized. I say, broadly speaking, I mean, most of the mayors that are on here, we care passionately about other issues, other progressive issues that we put a lot of time and attention to, but you got one hand tied behind your back because you don’t have that-that formula that incentivizes everybody at city council to be focused on the things that we want to be focused on, which is economic recovery coming out of COVID, which isn’t going to be a short term effort. But, if you have a premier and I think there is an opportunity now, if a premier is bold enough, they will lead the way and the municipalities will respond in a responsible way because they’re accessible and they’re accountable to their residents, more so than other levels of government.
Mary Rowe [00:50:29] You are raising an interesting specter here because previous sessions today, people have said, let’s get rid of the provinces, let’s just have a national government, and then we’ll have to basically have local regional governments, I think. So you’re saying wait a sec. Let’s see if we can find a progressive middle one. Go ahead. Go ahead, Brian. Go ahead.
Brian Bowman [00:50:47] I mean, yeah, I think the value that that municipal governments provide dwarfs- dwarfs the power and the revenues compared to other levels of government. And quite often, we deal with logjams in our provincial legislatures or parliaments to-to access federal dollars that we-we want to liberate that are intended to come here. And so we’re dealing with some pretty live ones right now where the challenge is how do you flow dollars through your provincial legislature? It’s-it’s- it’s crazy.
Don Iveson [00:51:23] So provinces are regional governments. They just don’t behave that way because they blame up. Well, ours anyway blames up and blames down and doesn’t leverage everything that’s within its span of control and try to optimize that system within the larger system. I mean, that’s how the country was designed. And I think the bigger issue is it’s not really working the way it should right now and it’s just really showing up on Main Street and in rural areas with policies and outcomes that aren’t serving Canadians wherever they live, whether it’s broadband connectivity issues or whether it’s public transit.
Mary Rowe [00:52:00] Don, do you think that the public- do you think the public could get I mean, one of the points that’s being made in this through this couple of days is that this is really about local democracy, that-that the system, as you say, isn’t working and that it’s really a civic issue for people. Do you think the public could be the ones to push for this change and say, we need more account, we need we’re tired of housing not being solved, we’re tired of- do you think it could come from that level, from the ground up?
Don Iveson [00:52:27] Well, I think yes, for two reasons. One, political structures and political organizing is changing fundamentally. It was changing before COVID. But, I think digitization has advanced so much that I think we’ll look back at this at a time where because of what we’ve seen with mobilization around climate, what we’ve seen with mobilization around racial reckoning, BLM, that the way people mobilize and express themselves has fundamentally changed. And a lot of that’s very borderless. And so we’re seeing, I think, much more movement driven and high youth engagement, very, very rapid sort of. This is in some ways reminiscent of some of what was we were watching in other parts of the world with the Arab Spring a few years ago. So I think things are changing in ways that we’ll look back on and see contributed to a massive political landscape. So, I think we’re seeing it drive at the federal level in the climate conversation, the way that’s polarized, but it’s polarized in ways that-that-that is driving much bigger change on climate than I think we all would have thought possible that the cities and the federal government are very well aligned in and provinces are still suing the federal government over, though I think most of those lawsuits are resolved now. And so, those things will work their way through. But I think the inexorable march of young people pushing for progress on these things, enabled by technology, made impatient by the system’s outcomes of injustice, whether it’s homelessness and your-your reconciliation on our streets or whether it’s issues of climate. I think those change pressures are there and are looking for some place for expression, tend to find expression much more easily at City Hall. And I think that will continue to percolate and-and it is the political parties to figure out how to pull that in, where the population is, where they can get seats and one of the most urbanized countries in the world inevitably will get there. So to me, the question is, how can you get there the quickest? And I think to Brian’s point, you know, the constitutional change, three dimensional chess was always where I started. But, I think the province that just shows the way and outperforms everybody else is the other way that this can happen. I think we’ve got 10 different ones to work from here and here’s the other issue, though, is that the provinces are all essentially broke. I mean, the borrowing that they had to do and their reticence to raise revenue to cover their exploding costs in their areas of poorly managed jurisdiction because they just go back and ask the feds for more. The feds are over leveraged now. They’re not going to be able to bail out the provinces the way they want on health, for example. So there’s a fiscal reckoning coming for provinces, too. And when a province goes bust, then the jig is up and we have to have a serious conversation about what is their role or what is their accountability and as Canadians in every province, what’s-what do we get for-for taking receivership of this institution that has failed- which will happen?
Mary Rowe [00:55:36] Well, you heard it here. You heard it here. First, the mayor of Edmonton is predicting that some province is going to go bust. I guess that’s-that’s how high the stakes are. Bonnie, you were shaking your head when I said that.
Bonnie Crombie [00:55:45] No, I do want to get in on this, too, so I you know, notwithstanding, I think these are very complex financial issues. And I think it’s very difficult to engage the grassroots to mobilize on these complex issues. I couldn’t show people that it was there to their benefit to lobby with me to remove Mississauga from the region of Peel in their financial interest. They’d be paying less taxes and I still couldn’t engage with them on it. So, these are very complex issues to try to-to think that they could be driven by people, advocacy groups. I don’t think so. I think what it takes is a mayor, maybe one of these two who are sitting here, or aren’t running for re-election to go federal to understand the plight of cities and run, you know, next time there’s an opening in the big city for leader and, you know, make changes. Make changes for a city. So, you know, I’m still – back where we started, that city’s are owned a share of the income tax. I think that’s a very fundamental. But what else can we do? And I do have some suggestions. I spent some time thinking about it. You know, cities need a seat at that federal table when it comes to negotiations, especially those fiscal discussions. You know, it used to be a three-a two legged discussion should be three legged with cities and if you out of the Indigenous groups make it a four legged stool. Forget about bilateral agreements with feds funding provinces; it needs to be at least trilateral and go down to the cities as well. We need to be trusted to manage our own affairs and that means to have our own consistent, predictable and sustainable funding and that just depends on what you agree on with your councils. At a minimum, in Ontario, we should be given the suite of tools that the city of Toronto has let us pick. And then I’ve already spoken about the income tax, but we need to have those kinds of meaningful discussions to go forward because certainly the status quo isn’t acceptable and we’ve always all relied on growth paying for growth and it just doesn’t anymore. You know, even in those municipalities that are high growth areas in Ontario, they’re Milton, they’re Brampton, they’re Caledon, growth doesn’t pay for growth. So we need to look at other sustainable tools.
Mary Rowe [00:57:57] OK, we’re just in the home stretch here. So. Thirty seconds to you, Brian. In thirty seconds to Don. You, Brian, first unmute there, yep.
Brian Bowman [00:58:06] You bet. Thanks, yeah, I’ll just say, I mean, what what residents can do is they-they these issues need to be discussed at the provincial level. So, they do need to demand of those that aspire to serve at the provincial level or that are currently serving. They need to see municipalities as-as the strategic partners and allies that they are. Who wouldn’t want to see the municipalities succeed unless you’re just concerned about political power, because the rising- you know, the rising tide lifts all lifts all boats. Well, you know, that that’s-that’s something that you would expect unless politics is largely driving their decision making or lack of ability to make some progressive changes. It’s you know, and to Bonny’s point, I mean, there is a paternalism about, well, what are you guys going to do? I mean, in our case, we have a progressive conservative government. I like to think we are actually very progressive at the municipal levels and we’re actually real conservatives, whether you have a card or not, because we know how to balance a budget. And so, I’m not sure what our current government is, but they’re not very progressive and they’re certainly not conservative because they don’t know how to balance the budget. We do. So, I think they could they could learn a lot from municipal leaders. They could learn a lot from many of the folks who I know that are on this call today. And I would just encourage everybody to lean in to those that serve in provincial legislatures and parliaments to find out how they are going to be part of the solution going forward.
Mary Rowe [00:59:45] Two sentences, Don. That’s all I can give you two sentences.
Don Iveson [00:59:48] Well, 14 balanced budgets later, I agree with everything Brian just said. And I would just say that I don’t think the answer is asymmetrical federalism. I think it’s conditional metropolitanism. And by that, what I mean is before the feds give another dime to the bandits of the provinces, they need to attach conditions on it, that they work constructively with local and Indigenous governments to get better outcomes for Canadians. No more blank checks.
Mary Rowe [01:00:13] OK, conditional metropolitanism. Listen, you folks, you never disappoint me in terms of your energy and verve to make things better and also to think imaginatively about how to empower the offices you hold in your colleagues at the local level to make lives better for people living in cities. So thanks for joining us. Great to see you. Mayor Iverson, Mayor Crombie and Mayor Bowman. And there’s one more day of the massive cities exciting tackling of whether the Constitution should change and what-what-what are the opportunities to relook at governance? There’s a mayors panel tomorrow afternoon as well with the mayor of Barrie, the mayor of London and talking with Nigel Jacob. And then if you want more details, then you want to spend tomorrow with all these constitutional experts, please do go to the Massey Cities Conference site and they’ll be glad to see you. And I’ll be glad to see you. Thanks again for joining us. Everybody. Have a good evening. So good to see you.
Brian Bowman [01:01:01] Thanks, Mary. Stay safe.
Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com with “Chat Comments” in the subject lin
From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk
00:27:37 Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments. Attendees: Where are you tuning in from today?
00:28:09 Alan Kasperski: Mary W. Rowe, President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute, is a leading urban advocate and civil society leader who has worked in cities across Canada and the United States. Mary comes to CUI with several years of experience as an urban advocate and community leader, including serving as Executive Vice President of the Municipal Art Society of New York (MASNYC), one of America’s oldest civic advocacy organizations focused on the built environment. A mid-career fellowship with the US-based blue moon fund led her to New Orleans where she worked with national philanthropy, governments and local communities to support rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Prior, Mary was President of the Canadian platform Ideas That Matter, a convening and publishing program based on the work of renowned urbanist Jane Jacobs.
00:28:25 Alan Kasperski: Mary has been a frequent contributor to national and international city-building programs, including UN Habitat and the World Urban Forum. She brings an extensive international network of practitioners from government, industry, community activism, and the city-building professions to strengthen CUI under her leadership.
00:30:20 Alan Kasperski: In 2014, Bonnie Crombie was elected Mayor of Mississauga. Building regionally-integrated transit, igniting new economic development opportunities and creating a more open, engaging and inclusive city, have been Mayor Crombie’s leading policy priorities for Mississauga.
00:30:38 Alan Kasperski: Mayor Crombie serves as honorary chair of the Mississauga International Partnership Program Committee (MIPP), a new working group committed to leveraging Mississauga’s cultural diversity and international contacts to attract foreign-direct investment. Mayor Crombie launched the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Taskforce, which brings together leaders from business, public sector and academia to identify strategies to further transform Mississauga into a thriving hub for innovation, entrepreneurship and capital investment.
00:31:04 Alan Kasperski: Mayor Crombie has an MBA from York University’s Schulich School of Business and earned a Corporate Director’s Certificate from the Institute of Corporate Directors at the Rotman School of Management. She attended St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, earning an Honours Bachelor of Arts in political science and international relations. Mayor Crombie also studied French immersion at the Paris Sorbonne University.
00:31:47 Alan Kasperski: Brian Bowman was first elected Mayor on October 22nd, 2014 becoming Winnipeg’s 43rd Mayor. He was re-elected Mayor on October 24th, 2018, increasing his plurality and capturing more than 53 percent of the votes cast. Both of Mayor Bowman’s campaigns signalled a positive, forward thinking vision for building a city whose population is on track toward a million people, and a vision to unite the city’s many diverse communities and cultures.
00:32:07 Alan Kasperski: Prior to taking office, Mayor Bowman was a business lawyer and a partner in a major Winnipeg law firm. Alongside his law practice, Brian held many leadership roles across a range of boards and community organizations. Mayor Bowman and his wife Tracy are proud parents of two sons. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Adv) in history and political studies from the University of Manitoba and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toronto. He is the recipient of an honourary CPA.
00:32:39 Alan Kasperski: Since his election as Edmonton’s 35th Mayor in 2013, Mayor Iveson has led Edmonton’s transformation into a more uplifting, resilient, and globally competitive city. Alongside his remarkable partner Sarah Chan, they both serve our community while raising two young children, working to make things better for all our kids and grandkids.
00:32:58 Alan Kasperski: Harnessing a new confidence among Edmontonians, he is focused on the priorities of growing an opportunity economy, building a more family-friendly city, accelerating our leadership on energy and climate, and planning for a million people – all while strengthening integrity and performance at City Hall.
00:33:14 Alan Kasperski: Prior to entering public life, Iveson studied Political Science at the University of Alberta, then served as president of Canadian University Press in Toronto. He returned home to a city that appeared to be exporting young, smart leaders, thinkers, creators, and entrepreneurs faster than it could attract them. As a proud Edmontonian, the challenge of attracting and retaining more people inspired Iveson to run for City Council in 2007. As a result, one of his key performance indicators – as both a Councillor and Mayor – is to build the kind of city that, when the time comes, his children will never want to leave.
00:35:51 Diane Dyson: Mayor Crombie is highlighting some interesting regional dynamics around representation.
00:41:14 Charles Maurer: Question for Ms. Crombie:
Public Health Ontario established a policy to screen the vision of kindergarteners. Peel Public Health refuses to to this. If you ignore provincial public health for that policy why did you not ignore it for covid?
00:44:04 Rebecca Alty: Mayor Iveson, with the change of the Provincial govt after you created the Edmonton and Calgary Charter, some of your powers were rolled back or diluted, correct? Is there something that you would do different with the Act to try and prevent that in the future?
00:46:20 Rebecca Alty: Good point, Mayor Bowman. Definitely a tough balance!
00:48:05 Steve Lorteau: Mayor Bowman, The City of Winnipeg has set, yet has failed to meet its GHG emission targets since 1998. Can you speak to the challenges associated with municipal GHG emission targets?
00:52:57 Rebecca Alty: Yellowknife 🙂
00:53:19 Rebecca Alty: Not a problem 🙂 It happens!
01:00:04 Rebecca Alty: We had this debate at Council yesterday. Councillors were frustrated that we couldn’t distinguish between different stores (chains vs small businesses). Property taxes are a blunt tool.
01:02:57 Diane Dyson: If our topic is Constitutional Space for Cities: Cities and the Tools for Job, what – more than finance and revenue tools – is needed to create vibrant and equitable cities? I am also interested in the mayors’ point of view on what are the strengths and weaknesses of pushing decision-making down to the most local level.
01:03:22 Alexandra Flynn: One of the things that came up this morning is that provinces / feds must come to the table on some issues (esp big ticket issues like transit & housing). What are your thoughts on balancing more power for cities while also binding other governments to help when needed.
01:05:01 dina graser: “Power concedes nothing without demand” is the quote I think you’re looking for, Mary. Frederick Douglass
01:05:57 Andrea Reimer: It’s not every panel where the moderator uses “obsequious” casually in a sentence.
01:23:13 Canadian Urban Institute: The Massey Cities Summit is a program of Massey College, in partnership with SSHRC, the Maytree Foundation, and the Canadian Urban Institute. Check out tomorrow’s program and register for the sessions by visiting our website: https://www.masseycitiessummit.ca/conference-agenda
01:23:31 Alexandra Flynn: I like this suggestion!
01:24:12 Alan Kasperski: One of you needs to be a Premier … soon!
01:27:10 Diane Dyson: Bravo!
01:27:25 Rebecca Alty: Thank you!
01:27:25 Rowan Gentleman-Sylvester: What a great conversation – thanks all!
01:27:47 Alexandra Flynn: Thank you so much!