Canadian cities and towns, including those within Metro Vancouver, find themselves squeezed
between the growing demand for public services, some of which are the result of downloading from
provincial and federal governments, and municipalities' limited access to sources of funding, according
to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
In its report on the State of Canada's Cities and Communities, the FCM concludes that "...Canada (is)
at a tipping point. Either we continue moving forward with the job of rebuilding our cities and
communities or Canada will fall behind as crumbling roads, traffic gridlock, and sky-high housing prices
cost our economy jobs and investment."
Metro Vancouver Board Chair and Mayor of Port Coquitlam Greg Moore said "as it stands, federal and
provincial governments spend about 92 cents of every tax dollar collected. That leaves municipalities
with only eight cents to provide the essential services – from drinking water to policing, fire protection
to affordable housing, environmental protection to parks and recreation – that our citizens and
businesses depend on and that are critical to maintaining our quality of life."
Metro Vancouver Finance Committee Chair Richard Walton, Mayor of North Vancouver District, said
"as municipalities are tasked with more and more responsibility for needed services, either because of
downloading or to fill a void left by the withdrawal of support by another level of government, we are
forced to divert property tax dollars away from infrastructure and core services."
While only a small portion of the Metro Vancouver budget is derived from property taxes – most
revenue comes from user fees for the water, sewerage and solid waste utilities – the region and its
member municipalities are faced with escalating costs to accommodate growth, meet ever more
stringent environmental regulations, and replace aging infrastructure.
"It is my hope that the FCM report will bring into stark relief the challenges our communities face, and
that we can look forward to an expanded partnership with the federal and provincial governments in
meeting our nation's social, economic and environmental needs", said Chair Moore. "Meeting those needs, and ensuring support for a growing economy, requires that local governments
have secure revenues that keep pace with their growing responsibilities," he said.
"The federal government must protect and build on recent gains in our cities and communities," said
FCM President Berry Vrbanovic. "We have finally started rebuilding the cities and communities that
support our economy and quality of life - we can't afford to go back."
An exploration of potential revenue sources and how municipal and regional governments might
access them will anchor discussion at a Roundtable on Municipal Finances that Metro Vancouver
plans to host this fall.
The report can be accessed at: