Share this page Print


Back  |  October 15, 2015  | 


The following article by Mayor Nenshi appeared in today's Calgary Herald.

That’s why, on behalf of Calgary City Council, I once again launched the Cities Matter survey during this election, asking all major political parties to commit to their promises regarding cities. It’s a big survey, 24 questions, and the four major parties have put a lot of time and effort into their responses, which are posted verbatim at

The results are fascinating, and well worth a look. First, it’s clear that the parties have understood that the issues of those of us who live in cities are truly Canadian issues: 80% of us live in cities, after all, and 72% of Canada’s GDP is generated in cities.

All four parties are committed to major investments in transit, including Calgary’s Green Line LRT. The Conservatives have also jumped on the C-Train - their announcement of the Public Transit Fund in the last budget is the first time we’ve ever seen a permanent commitment to transit from a federal government in Canada.

The parties differ in form: where the Conservatives will require the provinces and cities to take on debt while contributing one-third of the payments over many years, the Liberals will likely take on the debt up front. The New Democrats would create a 20-year public transit fund and increase the existing federal gas tax transfer by the end of their mandate.

While all of these plans would get more rail transit built in our largest cities, there are differences in timing, debt, and financing costs.

The same applies to the parties’ overall infrastructure plans. The Liberals would like to spend a lot of money now, while the NDP don’t provide very many specific dates, likely hamstrung by their balanced budget promise.

The biggest area of opportunity is housing. I was thrilled that the Globe and Mail debate included a question about housing, but not as thrilled when all three leaders present seemed surprised to be asked the question.

The survey results are interesting. The Conservatives are essentially defending their record, while the NDP is promising to reverse the Conservatives’ cuts as Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation agreements expire, and provide $500 million in incentives for new affordable and market units, along with an Affordable Housing Act. The Liberals, for their part, don’t go quite as far, but have some interesting ideas on tax incentives for market rental housing (the NDP prefers grants and loans).

What is clear is that we need new approaches and new ideas on housing across this country, and Canada’s big city mayors are committed to being at the table.

All parties have shown that they have considered municipal issues and have proposed a variety of different policy solutions. There’s a lot more in this survey - from urban aboriginal issues to immigration to poverty. It is up to citizens to read and judge, within the context of their own values, which set of policy solutions they feel are best.

I encourage you to check out and cast your vote for the Canada we need-on the issues that matter.

Categories: Columns; National

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​Femb​​