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Canada’s municipalities pay tribute to Fort McMurray and the collaborative spirit of cities and communities

Municipal leaders from across Canada today paid tribute to municipal leaders, first responders, and residents affected by the wildfire that engulfed the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Alberta, including the community of Fort McMurray. A special tribute was held during the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Annual Conference in Winnipeg.

"Like all Canadians, I was shocked by the images of devastation that emerged as the fire swept through Fort McMurray," said FCM President Raymond Louie. "But I was so impressed by the immense courage of first-responders, the extraordinary leadership of local leaders, and the outstanding support from neighbouring municipalities and Canadians from coast, to coast, to coast." 

The Fort McMurray wildfire burned more than 400,000 hectares, destroyed 2,400 buildings, and forced the largest evacuation in Alberta' history. However, it also spurred community spirit and an outpouring of generosity from Canadians, and municipal leaders  from coast to coast to coast who reached out to help their fellow-Canadians and municipal colleagues  in need.

During the ceremony, FCM President Raymond Louie applauded the leadership of Wood Buffalo Regional Council, including Mayor Mellisa Blake. Councillor Allan Vinni was on hand to receive this public acknowledgement. As well, President Louie commended all neighbouring municipalities who stepped up to welcome displaced residents, provided goods and services, and opened up their facilities to assist.  Mayor Omer Moghrabi of County Lac LaBiche and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson were publically thanked for their tremendous and continued show of support.

"The municipal sector banded together to support one of its own, and the generosity and leadership of community leaders remains as the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo undertakes the formidable task of rebuilding," said FCM President Louie.

FCM members will continue to support the Wood Buffalo community in the months and years to come as efforts now shift to rebuilding the community. Canadians are asked to make donations to the relief and recovery efforts through the Canadian Red Cross.

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Canada’s municipalities establish unified response to Syrian Refugee Crisis

Ottawa - Municipal leaders across Canada are pressing forward with their unified response to the humanitarian crisis facing Syria. Today the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) released details on the membership of the Task Force on Syrian Refugee Resettlement.

Membership on the Task Force reflects the diversity of the municipal sector. Cities that are traditional immigration hubs such as Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Ottawa and Halifax will be represented.  The Task Force will also include smaller municipalities, such as the City of St. Albert, AB, and the Town of Aurora, ON; both equally committed to assist in ways that are commensurate with their local realities.

FCM President Raymond Louie and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage will co-chair the Task Force."The scale of the crisis in Syria compels us all to respond in a way that is generous and compassionate, but to have a real impact our efforts must also be effective. This Task Force will be critical to our success," said president Raymond Louie.

The Task Force was launched earlier this month at FCM's board meeting in Fredericton when board members unanimously passed an Emergency Recommendation to coordinate the efforts of cities and communities across the country to amplify the effectiveness of local initiatives already underway. The Task Force will lead a Canada-wide municipal response to the Syrian refugee crisis to complement federal and provincial efforts. The Task Force will allow municipalities to share information and best practices.  It will also provide an efficient means of coordinating with provincial, territorial and federal counterparts to meet immediate and urgent resettlement targets.

Canada's cities and communities were quick to act on the obligation facing all orders of government to offer solutions to this crisis situation.

  • The City of London is working with local groups to raise awareness and funds to sponsor families from Syria to settle in the city.
  • The City of Vancouver held a public forum to discuss actions the public can take to address the emergency situation.
  • The City of Halifax adopted a motion assuring Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration that the city will provide a welcoming environment for refugees.
  • The City of Montréal adopted a declaration recognizing the urgency of the situation and stating its intent to work with all stakeholders on refugee resettlement.

"Municipalities across Canada have always been crucial to the success of Canada's efforts to resettle refugees in our country. The Task Force is a signal to other orders of government that our communities are prepared to be part of the solution to this humanitarian disaster," says Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

The Task Force will meet for the first time next week to begin the process of coordinating the local government response to this crisis.

FCM is the national voice of municipal government. In leading the municipal movement, FCM works to align federal and local priorities, recognizing that strong hometowns make for a strong Canada.


FCM's Task Force on Syrian Refugee Resettlement

Co-Chairs
Raymond Louie, FCM President
Mike Savage, Mayor, City of Halifax
City of Saskatoon, SK
City of London, ON
City of Montréal, QC
City of Hamilton, ON
City of Edmonton, AB
City of Vancouver, BC
City of St. Albert, AB
Town of Aurora, ON
City of Halifax, NS
City of Toronto, ON
City of Kitchener, ON
City of Nelson, BC
City of Ottawa, ON

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Mayors meet Prime Minister on housing and transit

In a substantive meeting this morning, Canada's big-city mayors urged the Prime Minister to use his government's next budget to launch a new era of public transit and to tackle Canada's housing affordability crisis head-on. 

"This government clearly appreciates that we can't build livable, globally-competitive cities on top of a housing crisis," said Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton and chair of FCM's Big-City Mayors' Caucus (BCMC). "Our discussion with the Prime Minister today focused on the budget - as really a once-in-a-generation opportunity both to expand transit and to fix the housing crisis."

A million and a half Canadian families cannot find decent housing they can afford. One in five renters spends more than half their income on shelter. And vulnerable Canadians are at risk as long-standing federal operating agreements for Canada's 600,000 social housing homes progressively expire. The mayors are urging the federal government to invest $12.6 billion in housing solutions over eight years, directing money already earmarked for the Social Infrastructure Fund. 

In budget recommendations submitted on Monday, the mayors laid out a plan to protect existing social housing, build new affordable housing and kick-start rental housing markets. They also outlined the funding mechanisms that will ensure major transit expansions move forward - shortening commutes, easing gridlock, reducing emissions and boosting productivity.

"This government put unprecedented money on the table for transit, green and social infrastructure. And with the right mechanisms in place, cities are ready to turn transit and green investment into big outcomes for Canadians. But now we also need a clear and bold federal decision to put those Social Infrastructure funds into housing," said Iveson.

Today's BCMC agenda also includes a panel discussion with six housing stakeholder organizations from across Canada, as well as discussion on the fentanyl public health crisis. Later, the mayors will review their full Budget 2017 recommendations with senior Infrastructure Canada officials and Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs).

"Canada's big cities are hubs of innovation, and our local solutions drive progress on national challenges. More than ever, city-building is nation-building, and it's heartening to see our Prime Minister share that broad vision," said Iveson.

 

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is the national voice of Canada's local order of government, with nearly 2,000 members representing 91 per cent of the population. Its Big-City Mayors' Caucus brings together 22 of Canada's largest cities.

For more information

Michael FitzPatrick, FCM Media Relations: mfitzpatrick@fcm.ca  or 613 907 6346

Resources

Seizing the moment: FCM's Budget 2017 recommendations

Canada's Housing OpportunityFCM's national housing strategy recommendations

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Transportation

Big-city mayors reach out to newcomers and refugees

The 22 members of FCM's Big City Mayors' Caucus issued the following joint statement reaffirming their commitment to welcoming refugees and other newcomers to their communities.

The strength of Canada's cities lies in the diversity of our residents.

Those residents come from every part of the globe, seeking a decent quality of life, and sometimes safe harbour. As mayors, we understand that newcomers strengthen our economies with vital skills and capacity for innovation, and they enrich our communities with fresh perspectives and approaches to shared challenges.

Immigrants and refugees deserve equal treatment under the law and the same opportunities as any other Canadian. Exclusion of anyone based on their nationality or faith is unacceptable. On behalf of the millions we serve, we stand together against all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Canada's cities continuously strive to be welcoming communities. We are committed to diversity and oppose all forms of discrimination — both because our values compel us, and because Canada's future prosperity depends on it. 

To read more about how Canadian cities and communities are actively welcoming refugees, check out the Welcoming Communities toolkit.   

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of municipal government, with nearly 2,000 members representing 91 per cent of the Canadian populationIts Big City Mayors' Caucus convenes 22 large Canadian cities from coast to coast. 

Information

Michael FitzPatrick, Media Relations: mfitzpatrick@fcm.ca  or 613 907 6346.

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FCM applauds Supreme Court decision on Windsor v. Canadian Transit Company

This morning, in a dispute between the City of Windsor and the Canadian Transit Company, the federally regulated corporation that operates the international bridge crossing between Windsor and Detroit (Corporation of the City of Windsor v. Canadian Transit Company), the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that issues relating to the application of municipal bylaws to federal undertakings should be decided by the Superior Courts of each province, not by the Federal Court of Canada.

FCM intervened in this case at Windsor's request and is pleased by this outcome. As stated by the Court, resolving federal-municipal jurisdictional questions in Superior Courts is not only in keeping with the Constitution, but it guarantees greater access to justice for municipalities and community groups across the country by ensuring that such cases are heard locally.

This case relates to CTC's attempt to have the Federal Court of Canada decide whether Windsor's property standards bylaw applied to its 114 derelict properties. Windsor was of the view that this matter should be decided locally by the Ontario Superior Court, as has been the case for all federal-municipal jurisdictional disputes since Confederation. The matter can now proceed to Superior Court in Windsor to determine the real issue at play: whether the property standards bylaw applies to the CTC's properties and whether the CTC has violated these bylaws.

FCM supported the argument that the Federal Court does not have jurisdiction over issues of this type and that these must be decided in the local courthouse by a Superior Court Justice. FCM will continue to defend the constitutional rights of local governments to enact and enforce bylaws that protect the interest of their residents by making legal interventions on issues of broad national interest to Canada's municipalities.

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FCM releases how-to guide to welcoming refugees - Welcoming Communities builds on municipal experience with Syrian newcomers

A year after Canada began opening its arms to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has released Welcoming Communities: A Toolkit for Municipal Governments. The practical guide builds on lessons learned by over 300 municipalities that have helped to welcome the newcomers

"I am proud of how Canadian municipalities stepped up and embraced our new Canadian family members," said FCM President Clark Somerville. "Now we've turned some of that experience into a practical guide to becoming truly welcoming communities for refugees.

"In September 2015, FCM launched a Task Force on Refugee Resettlement to share information across the country, to coordinate with federal, provincial and territorial governments, and to support frontline organziations and neighbourhood groups that led strong local responses. Welcoming Communities surveys the complex challenge of welcoming many refugees in a short period of time-focussing on priorities such as finding affordable housing, providing language and cultural supports, and building community connections.

"Once again, we are seeing how  municipal action helps meet national challenges," added Somerville, "Of course, as emergency federal support winds down now in 'Month 13', we'll need to help these refugees face new challenges, like finding affordable longer-term housing.

"A housing crisis continues to play out in communities across Canada, with a deepening shortage of affordable housing options. FCM has recommended a comprehensive response, calling for significant funding for housing solutions in Budget 2017.

Since November 2015, 35,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada. FCM and its members recognize the cultural, social and economic value that newcomers contribute to our communities, and they will continue to be part of a solution to this tragic situation.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of municipal government, with 2,000 members representing 90 per cent of the Canadian population.

Information:

Michael FitzPatrick, Media Relations: mfitzpatrick@fcm.ca or 613 907 6346

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Immigration and refugees
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