CBC Information Morning held a debate with the candidates for district 5. Listen here:
Municipal Candidates’ Panel – District 5
Here are some of the issues that we discussed:
Creating a vibrant downtown core
Marketing our world-class artistic talent
Debt and equalization
Kids and their families
CBRM’s services and infrastructure are chronically underfunded — even as we’ve accumulated a $100+ million debt over the last decade. This “infrastructure deficit” impacts our competitiveness, making it harder for CBRM to attract investment, new residents, and tourists.
But we are not unique in our predicament.1 Municipalities across Canada face similar obstacles to delivering services efficiently and affordably. Calgary and Toronto have infrastructure deficits of roughly $2.5 billion each, Montreal $1.5 billion, to name just a few.
Like all municipalities in Canada, CBRM’s primary source of revenue comes from property taxes — an outdated and unsustainable funding formula that is increasingly leaving municipalities underserved. CBRM should partner with other municipalities — especially, but not exclusively, in Cape Breton and mainland Nova Scotia — to find ways to diversify its fiscal base. This might include collectively negotiating increased tax sharing and grants from the provincial and federal governments.
To ensure that taxes raised by the municipality are put back into the local economy, the CBRM could consider adopting the Canadian Labour Congress’s “Made in Canada” procurement policy.
The municipality should also encourage economic diversity — by promoting our rich history of cooperatives, credit unions, and various forms of social enterprise that benefit business owners, workers, and the community — in order to foster resilience within the local economy.
1 “Infrastructure Issues Threaten Canadian Prosperity” [pdf]