I recently met with local Renfrew County Mayors to hear their concerns and what they would like to see in the upcoming Federal Budget.
Thank-you to Mayor David Mayville (Killaloe Hagarty Richards), Mayor Jennifer Murphy (Bonnechere Valley), Mayor James Brose (North Algona Wilberforce), Mayor Suzanne D’eon (Deep River), Mayor Rob Weir (Greater Madawaska) and host municipality Mayor Neil Nicholson (Whitewater Region), for personally sharing the concerns of their ratepayers with their Federal Member of Parliament. This was our first opportunity to meet in person since COVID. Nothing can replace the group dynamics of meeting face-to-face.
There was unanimous agreement among those present raising property taxes, particularly for ratepayers on fixed incomes, will cause undue hardship. Too many items are being downloaded to municipalities whose taxpayers cannot afford these costs on their property tax bills. There is a huge infrastructure deficit in rural communities just to keep existing roads and buildings maintained.
The current Federal Government policy of raising its carbon tax to $170/tonne on home heating fuel is unrealistic when there is no viable alternative. The electric grid infrastructure does not exist for every home to convert to electric, let alone purchase expensive electric vehicles that also require special electric chargers.
The mayors all agreed small municipalities cannot afford to be in the healthcare business, let alone be responsible for funding rural transportation. One municipality is looking at the added expense of having to purchase an expensive ladder fire truck in order to attract a builder to build a much-needed seniors’ residence for its community. Building that residence also depends on having sufficient water and sewer capacity, which all cost money. The overall message was without financial assistance from upper levels of government, necessary infrastructure cannot be built.
As an MP representing small town and rural communities, I will be looking for Federal budget measures to address these and the many other challenges facing Canadians.