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FCM Highlights: September 4-7, 2013

OVERVIEW

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Board of Directors met in St. John’s, NL, for a series of meetings from September 4–7, 2013.

Board members participated in regional caucus meetings, standing committee and forum meetings, a Committee of the Whole meeting and the Board meeting. It was agreed that the key priorities for FCM and the Board over the coming year are: federal Budget 2013 implementation; our 2015 election readiness strategy; and involving Board members in FCM’s advocacy leading up to the election. A very clear message came through, in virtually all of the meetings, about the importance of these three priorities and the commitment of the entire organization to following through on them.

Meetings addressed a range of issues, including:

  • The need for federal, provincial and territorial governments to focus on building local economic foundations when designing the new generation of infrastructure programs:

o   Ensure discussions around federal-provincial funding agreements are expedited so that funding is available for municipalities in time for the 2014 construction season, as announced in Budget 2013; and

o   Ensure the new Building Canada Fund is designed to support national economic growth by addressing core infrastructure needs of Canada’s cities and communities

  • Affordable housing and FCM’s nationwide campaign calling for new housing support programs leading up to federal Budget 2014.
  • The municipal movement’s federal Election 2015 readiness plan, including preparation, campaign implementation and advocacy.

Other highlights from the meetings included:

  • A full presentation was provided on FCM's upcoming housing campaign. In addition, members of the Standing Committee on Social-Economic Development completed a housing questionnaire, which helped to identify potential champions for the housing campaign.
  • Interviews of some 10 Board members were videotaped and will be used for FCM’s campaign this fall.

Board members as FCM ambassadors

Discussions were held about the role of Board members in FCM’s engagement activities with members, political decision-makers in Ottawa, stakeholders and media.

Topics included how Board members could serve as champions and ambassadors for the municipal movement and how FCM’s national organization can support them in this role. While in St. John’s, 72 Board members were consulted as a means to understanding how FCM could help them in their role as ambassadors.

Rail safety

The Board endorsed the recommendations put forward by FCM’s National Municipal

Rail Safety Working Group which include calling on the federal government to take action in the following three priority areas:

  • Equip and support municipal first responders to rail emergencies;
  • Ensure federal and industry policies and regulations address the rail safety concerns of municipalities; and
  • Prevent downloading of rail safety and emergency response costs to local taxpayers.

As a wrap-up to the meetings in St. John’s, FCM issued a press release in which the

Board called on the federal and provincial governments to “act quickly to set priorities and sign funding agreements for the new 10-year, $14-billion Building Canada Fund.”

 

SUMMARY OF DISCUSSIONS

Community Safety and Crime Prevention

Committee Chair, Councillor Michael Thompson welcomed new and returning board members including the new Vice Chairs, Randy Goulden, Councillor with the City of Yorkton and Luc Montreuil, Councillor with the Ville de Gatineau. The Chair acknowledged the work and commitment of the past chair and led a round table of introductions.

The committee reviewed accomplishments and engagement highlights of the past year including Vice-Chair Goulden’s participation on behalf of FCM at the Canadian Association ofPolice Boards AGM, City of Thompson’s Deputy Mayor Hogan’s work with FCM and Statistics Canada addressing the Crime Severity Index and the work of a number of board members at the federal public safety summit on policing in Ottawa in January. Councillors Chairs Coleman and Dave Hodgins provided an update on FCM’s participation in the Disaster Resilient Communities Working Group.

The committee welcomed a guest speaker from Correctional Services Canada (CSC), Mr.Patrice Miron, A/Director of Correction’s Citizen Engagement Directorate. Mr. Miron spoke to the past, present and future partnership opportunities between FCM and CSC through our Joint Committee on Community Corrections. Vice-Chair Montreuil spoke of his several years of experience as a member of the Joint Committee and the impactful and informative meetings he has participated in over the years including a tour of the Grand Valley Women’s Institution in Kitchener and meetings with inmates and past offenders to learn about their needs and challenges with reintegrating into our communities. The committee expressed strong support for the continued partnership and participation in the Joint Committee on Community Corrections.

Chair Thompson lead a round table discussion on the recommended priorities and the committee provided valuable input into details of the proposed advocacy strategy. The committee expressed strong support to address key drivers of policing costs including mental health, addictions, growing policing responsibilities and operational efficiencies at the policing level. The committee adopted the proposed policy and advocacy priorities for 2013-2014.

 

Municipal Finance and Intergovernmental Arrangements

Committee Chair Don Downe welcomed new and returning committee members to St. John’s and introduced the new vice-chairs Councillor Mike O’Donnell and Councillor Sav Dhaliwal.

The Committee approved the agenda as well as the report from the March 2013 Board meeting. Staff provided an updated environmental scan of Ottawa before approving the 2013-14 policy and advocacy priorities: refreshing the municipal fiscal storyline; and, federal municipal partnerships on international trade and investment attraction.

The Committee approved the Action Items Status Report. Then, the committee considered a resolution calling on the Government of Canada to defer the capital gains on properties where the seller reinvested into another property in the same municipality within a year. After discussion, the Committee referred the resolution back to staff to explore including this issue within the broader context of FCM’s housing campaign.

Staff provided numerous update reports to Committee members. First, the Committee considered a draft outline of the plan for a refreshed municipal fiscal storyline – one that would inform the 2014 edition of the State of the Cities and Communities Report (SOTCC). Staff presented a three year plan for future SOTCC reports. Next, the Committee heard an update on FCM’s work with the Government of Canada around international trade agreements and investment attraction. While the signing of the Canada-E.U. trade agreement seems to be delayed until early 2014, there were a number of action items identified that can be implemented in the interim. Following this, the Committee directed staff to prepare a letter to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGCS) seeking an update and a meeting to discuss continued challenges around the Department’s interpretation of recent Supreme Court rulings on the payments-in-lieu of taxes program. Finally, the Committee considered how to address concerns with FCM’s resolution plenary process in light of recent challenges.

The Committee Chair thanked members for attending the meeting.

 

Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development

The meeting began with an introduction from the Chair, Michelle Morin-Doyle and roundtable introductions from committee members. The chair welcomed Dan Casselman as the committee’s new policy advisor. Following the approval of the agenda, the report from the March 2013 committee meeting was approved.

Staff delivered a presentation on the 2013-14 recommended policy and advocacy priorities for the committee. After some discussion, the intent of Priority #2 was clarified and amended to ensure it focused not just on pipelines, but all resource development-related projects.

Updates were provided on the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act, the Navigation Protection Act and the Species at Risk Act. The resolution: Municipalities in Support of Climate Change Mitigation from la Ville de Boucherville, QC was referred back to staff pending the renewal of FCM’s climate change policy research and advocacy strategy. Committee members wanted assurance that la Ville de Boucherville, QC would be notified of the committee’s decision and rationale and that the resolution, or a revised version from the member, would be brought back for consideration in due time.

A decision memo was presented on recommendations for next steps pertaining to the National Zero Waste Council. The recommendations were adopted by the Committee.

Jacque Nadeau, Director of FCM’s Green Municipal Fund (GMF) provided an on-site update of GMF’s municipal capacity building program proposal to Infrastructure Canada. One comment was put forward pertaining to the need for municipal capacity building on climate change adaptation to be built into GMF’s proposed capacity building program. This input was broadly supported by the committee.

 

Increasing Women’s Participation in Municipal Government

Committee Chair Erin Hogan welcomed everyone to St. John’s and introduced the committee’s new vice-chairs; Councillor Linda Rydholm of City of Thunder Bay, Ontario and Director Susan Gimse of the Regional District of Squamish-Lillooet, BC. The committee members and observers were then invited to introduce themselves.

The committee approved the agenda and the report from the Prince George Board Meeting. Following this Chair Erin Hogan provided a summary of the accomplishments of the 2012-

2013 year focusing on the completion of the Protégé and Getting to 30% Programs as well as the funding received to launch the Head Start for Young Women program.

Chair Hogan then identified the six priority areas for 2013-2014:

1. Head Start for Young Women

2. International Day of the Girl Child

3. Scholarships and Awards

4. Long-term Program Funding

5. Regional Champions

6. International Partnerships on gender-related Programs

The Chair outlined the objectives of the Head Start for Young Women’s program and Melissa Newitt, Program Coordinator, Head Start for Young Women provided an update. The list of participating communities had been finalized, including; the City of Grand Forks, BC; Town of Beaumont, Alberta; Ottawa, ON; London, ON; Ville de Bathurst, New Brunswick and Gatineau, Quebec. Committee members were encouraged to following the work of this program through FCM social media.

Vice Chair Linda Rydholm then outlined the second priority, the International Day of the Girl Child celebrations. Committee members were then invited to share their successes and challenges in marking the inaugural celebrations which took place October 11th, 2012. FCM staff provided a toolkit for International Day of the Girl Child including a sample proclamation, sample council resolutions, sample press release and a list of possible activities for marking the day.

Vice Chair Rydholm then presented the names of the 2013 recipients of the committee’s scholarships and awards. Committee members were invited to indicate interest in participating in the scholarship subcommittee which evaluates and selects the recipients each year.

Chair Hogan briefly presented the long-term program funding and regional champions as important priorities for 2013-14. Mayor Debra Button delivered an update on International Partnerships on gender-related programs, specifically focusing on the Municipal Local Economic Development (MLED) program working in the Ukraine which has strong gender equality components. Committee members who have been involved with this work shared their experiences. Committeemembers having represented FCM in Cambodia and at the Global Network of Cities, Local and Regional Governments (UCLG) shared their work in promoting women’s participation.

Chair Erin Hogan presented the committee with the revised strategy for scholarships. The revised strategy included a new timeline for the application process, an increase from $2000 to $3000 for the Mayor Andrée P. Boucher Memorial Scholarship as well as the addition of some $250 honourable mentions for the Canadian Women in Municipal Government Scholarship. The Chair then facilitated a discussion of the revised strategy for scholarships.

Chair Erin Hogan presented the committee with the proposed strategy for the Regional Champion program. The objective of this strategy was to renew and revitalize this program and build on this network in order to share the tools that have resulted from the Protégé and

Getting to 30% programs. The proposed strategy included directing the staff to build a database of the work being done by regional champions and a commitment from FCM staff and committee members to promoting the Regional Champions, Protégé and Getting to 30% tools through their networks.

Pam McConnell, chair of the Long-term Funding Subcommittee, then provided an update on the subcommittee’s work, focusing on the development of a strategy to approach Minister Leitch. The subcommittee reported that there had been considerable work done toward building a strategy for partnership with the previous Minister and that work was already under way to redefine the strategy to approach Minister Leitch, the current Minister of Status of Women Canada.

 

Rural Forum

The meeting began with the election of President David Marit as Chair, and President Doug Dobrowolski and President Churence Rogers as Vice-Chairs of the Rural Forum for the coming year.

The Chair then welcomed new and returning committee members to the Rural Forum, and Forum members, observers and staff introduced themselves.

After approval of the minutes of the March 2013 meeting, staff provided an overview of the 2013-2014 Policy and Advocacy Priorities, including an update on our recent broadband advocacy efforts with the new Minister of Industry. Councillor Olsvik requested that staff follow up with the government to ensure the upcoming renewals of the 2500 and 3500 MHz spectrum licenses adopt a “use it or lose it” approach to promote rural access. Before the 2013-2014 priorities were adopted, Reeve Forfar also asked if the issue of small and regional airports would remain a committee priority; staff indicated this was a component of the priority to renew FCM’s rural policy development in advance of Election 2015.

The Forum then discussed the need for the Rural Forum to work with the Big City Mayor’s Caucus to promote a harmonized approach to developing emergency response applications for the Interoperable Broadband Emergency Network currently in development.

Staff then provided an update report on the rural research project. A draft report will be prepared in advance of the November 2013 board meeting, and include updated data on defining rural communities, demographic trends, economic trends, as well as an inventory of current and past federal policies and programs for rural communities.

An update on the rural broadband research project was then provided. This report will use a case study approach to quantify the existing and anticipated digital divide between rural and urban Canada and support FCM’s advocacy efforts on broadband access. President Barss commented that federal broadband policies will only be effective if based on geographic coverage, rather than population base. Reeve Campbell suggested staff should look at the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) as a best practice for promoting rural broadband.

Chair Anderson suggested that the rural broadband research should look at policies to further promote tower sharing, and specifically improved access for smaller regional providers. President Marit also recommended that the Forum invite the large incumbents to appear before the Forum regarding their plans for rural coverage.

Staff then provided an update on small and regional airports and recommended that this issue be a part of the Election 2015 readiness work. Reeve Forfar suggested that current lack of funding for airports was an issue for communities of all sizes including the Big City Mayors.

The Forum then discussed the issue of disaster mitigation and prevention, and the limitations of the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements program. President Barss recommended that FCM strike a special Working Group on this issue. After much discussion, the Forum voted to table the recommendation until the March 2014 board meeting as the Standing Committee on Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development is currently looking at these issues as one of its top priorities for the coming year.

Before adjourning the Chair recognized the long-time contributions of Mayor Greeley and President Hanson, both of whom were attending their last FCM board meeting.

 

Social-Economic Development

Committee Chair Councillor Brian Pincott welcomed new and returning committee members and introduced the new Vice-Chairs, City of Toronto Councillor, Pam McConnell, and Mayor Edgar Rouleau with the Cité de Dorval.

The committee Chair and staff presented the proposed strategic priorities for the coming year including the framework for FCM’s national campaign on housing and the economy.

The committee provided valuable input into details of the campaign and advocacy strategy and recognized that while housing challenges vary across the country; from skyrocketing homeownership costs to eroding social housing in urban centres and larger cities, to attracting new families and supporting seniors in their homes in rural and remote communities; housing is an issue impacting cities and communities across the country. It was agreed that our campaign on housing must deliver a message that includes all our members including rural, northern and remote communities.

Concerns were expressed around the federal government’s new focus on Housing First within its Homelessness Partnering Strategy. The committee supports a Housing First approach that is linked to health and social support services.

The committee adopted the recommendations for its 2013-2014 policy and advocacy priorities and agreed that FCM must ensure that a campaign on housing must deliver a message that includes all our members including rural, northern and remote communities. Councillor Ben Henderson provided an update on the renamed Canadian Council on the Social Determinants of Health (CCSDH). The CCSDH is active after a hiatus and Councillor Henderson will continue to serve as FCM’s representative on this group. Councillor Henderson also provided an update on the urban Aboriginal working group and its meeting at the 2013 AGM. The group will remain an informal working group at this time and report updates on its progress to the SED committee.

Vice-Chair McConnell led a discussion the importance of using a Human Rights lens to view our work on housing and other issues arising from this committee.

The committee supported the recommendation from the Quebec Caucus and raised by Councillor Michelle Morin-Doyle directing staff to include in its housing campaign, a resolution supporting the principles and objectives of the housing campaign. The resolution would be provided to members so that it can be adopted by municipal councils across Canada.

 

Municipal Infrastructure and Transportation Policy

Committee Chair Doug Reycraft opened the meeting and welcomed new and returning committee members to the meeting in St. John’s. The Chair then introduced the new vice chairs: Jenelle Saskiw and Robert Coulombe.

Staff provided a thorough update to Committee members on the policy and political environment in Ottawa to frame the recommended 2013-14 policy and advocacy priorities: Infrastructure: new Building Canada Plan/Infrastructure Report Card; telecommunications policy development; and, rail safety. Committee members then approved the action items status report.

Staff provided an update on the conversations with the Government of Canada to date on the design of the future Gas Tax Fund (GTF). Discussions have focused on streamlining the program, improving the visibility of the program and promoting asset management practices under the GTF. Following this, the Committee approved the proposed new Building Canada Fund Consultation Plan. Significant discussion ensued around both the principles and the program design asks and staff was given clear direction to ensure that consultations with FCM occur within an expeditious timeframe.

Staff then provided an update on the status of FCM’s asset management capacity building ask under the new BCF. The Committee will be receiving a more detailed plan at the November Board meeting in Ottawa.

Next, the Committee received an update on the activities undertaken by FCM’s rail safety working group. Committee members approved a number of action items to steer effective discussions between municipalities, rail companies and Transport Canada. Following this update, staff provided a brief update on FCM’s rights-of-way policy and advocacy work.

The Committee considered one resolution relating to new PSAB requirements governing the reporting of risk and liability regarding contaminated sites within a municipality’s jurisdiction.

Finally, the Committee heard from John Longbottom, program director of IBM’s Smarter Cities program. IBM has positioned itself as a leader in the use of hard data to inform asset management planning at the local level. IBM is very interested in working closely with FCM in the near future to build out Canada’s repository of quality information that will support smarter decisions, particularly in the area of maximizing infrastructure investments.

The Chair thanked members of the committee for their attendance and wished them a pleasant stay in St. John’s.

 

International Relations

Committee Chair Lise Burcher welcomed everyone to St John’s and invited committee members and observers to introduce themselves. The Committee then approved the agenda and the minutes of the March 2013 committee meeting in Prince George.

The Committee received updates from FCM’s International Program governance representatives on FCM International’s four current international development programs, namely the Global Municipal Partners for Economic Development (MPED), Ukraine Municipal Local Economic Development Program (MLED), the Caribbean Local Economic Development Program (CARILED), and the Programme de Cooperation Municipale Haiti (PCM). Additional information was provided to the Committee regarding the status of a second phase proposal submission for the Haiti program, including a recent meeting with the new Minister of International Development on this issue.

Committee Vice-Chair Roger Anderson provided an update on business development priorities for the year. Priorities include program renewals (Haiti, Ukraine), new proposal development (strengthening the capacity of local governments in mining communities in Latin America and the Caribbean), ongoing discussions with CIDA on a long-term programming framework, and the adoption of an international program development strategy.

The Committee initiated the process of renewing FCM’s current international relations framework, with a view to increasing its alignment with FCM’s 2012-17 Strategic Plan and increasing the flow of value back to members from FCM’s international engagement. Committee members reflected on the previous or current international involvement of their municipalities and the value they have experienced from this work. Committee members also discussed ideas on potential new services FCM could provide to support members’ international interests. One possible new area of FCM support relates to trade development and investment attraction: for example, sharing of information and best practices; improved coordination between levels of government; market entry advice; tool development (media kits, MOU templates, model protocols, public engagement strategies); and funding mechanisms.

Updates were provided on FCM’s engagement in international networks, in particular the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). FCM’s CEO was recently appointed as Secretary General for the North American section of UCLG (NORAM); in this capacity, priority will be placed on supporting FCM members’ interests in effectively engaging at the global level, both to contribute to the international municipal agenda and to derive knowledge and good practices of benefit to our domestic agenda. FCM has also been actively involved in discussions on the role of local government in the United Nation’s new global development agenda. FCM will soon assume the Presidency of UCLG’s Development Cooperation and City Diplomacy committee, an excellent opportunity for mutual sharing of good practices and effective coordination of FCM’s international work.

With the objective of optimizing Board oversight of FCM International, the Committee discussed a process for reviewing the current governance model for SCIR. Committee Vice Chair Garth Frizzell outlined the work agenda of a SCIR task group which will review the terms of reference of the committee and specifically the roles and responsibilities of Chairs, Vice-Chairs, Program Governance Representatives, working groups, committee members, and support staff. As a first step, it was agreed that program governance representatives will be invited to reassess their availability and interest to serve as governance reps on specific programs on a yearly basis. Applications for the 2013-2014 program governance assignments will be distributed in early September.

Finally, the committee addressed follow up questions surrounding a topic discussed during the March 2013 committee meeting. Councillor Tim Stevenson had raised a concern regarding a funding decision by CIDA related to a Canadian organization operating within Uganda, a country in which the gay and lesbian community is undergoing persecution. The committee asked staff to review this matter with CIDA and to report back their findings. The committee also asked staff to review the issue of diversity within FCMI’s program proposals and international policy statement and report back at the November meeting.

 

The Northern and Remote Forum

After approval of the agenda, Chair Elaine Wyatt welcomed new and returning members and Forum members and staff introduced themselves. The minutes of the March 2013 meeting were approved.

Staff then provided an overview of the advocacy context for the coming year. It was noted that the political environment should be favourable for advocacy on the Forum’s priority issues in the lead up to Election 2015. First, the Government of Canada has changed its approach to northern issues, moving away from a focus on sovereignty towards an emphasis on economic development and strong communities. At the same time, Canada has begun a 2-year term as chair of the Arctic Council.

Following an overview by staff, members adopted three priorities for 2013-2014: Housing for Northern Economic Development, Northern Telecommunications and Connectivity, and Northern Infrastructure and Adaptation. Staff then reviewed the Action Items Status Report. There was a request for staff to report back on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ current levels of investment in coastal communities.

The Forum was then provided with an overview of FCM’s housing campaign and its links to the northern housing policy recommendations previously approved by the Forum. It was noted that the expiring operating agreements is an issue for communities in the North and South alike, but that there are specific housing issues in the North which will require additional advocacy work similar to the northern supplement to FCM’s LTIP submission.

Staff then provided an overview of recent developments on the telecommunications file, specifically FCM’s interventions to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology and to the CRTC as part of its review of Northwestel’s modernization plan and the subsidy regime for northern telecommunications.

Finally, the Forum then discussed the issue of northern and remote airport infrastructure, including the need for supplementary funding for northern and remote airports to support paving and other capital investments, and the impact of the proposed Runway End Safety Area (RESA) regulations. Members agreed that the high cost air transportation was a major concern. It was recommended that staff study the amount of airport rents and other fees levied by the federal government on northern airports. It was also suggested that staff explore the potential role of federal government users (i.e. military, search and rescue) in providing funding for airport improvements. The Forum approved then recommendations related to improving existing airport infrastructure and adopting a risk-based approach to the proposed RESA regulations.

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