The Prime Minister’s speech was welcomed enthusiastically by mayors Brian Bowman and Don Iveson, who said the comments are solidifying the perception that Ottawa is accepting the position that decisions affecting local communities need to be made by local leaders.
In the past, municipal leaders often found themselves caught in a power struggle between federal and provincial politicians over which local projects should be funded.
Both mayors said it’s reasonable to expect Ottawa to have its own objectives on what it wants accomplished through the $120-billion infrastructure fund and they said local leaders can best determine which projects meet those objectives.
"I know that there will be MPs who will fight for their wards, that’s something that will happen across Canada, but we’re dealing with the Prime Minister and the minister responsible for the country," Bowman said. "Having the criteria set out the way they are, it’s a very strong step in the right direction."
During his Friday morning speech to the 1,600 delegates attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference, Trudeau said his government’s priority when funding local projects is that they must meet federal objectives, including creating jobs as quickly as possible and that they combat the problems posed by climate change.
"Local decision makers know best which projects will achieve those goals more ambitiously," said Iveson, mayor of Edmonton and chair of the Big City Mayors' Caucus. "That was music to local government ears today."
Bowman said he’s confident the new Pallister government is prepared to allow local municipalities to determine which projects will be constructed in any future joint-funding agreement between Ottawa and the provincial governments.