Dilkens, Trudeau discuss direct pipeline of federal funding to cities

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens March 22, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Windsor’s Mayor is feeling pretty good about the possibility of a direct pipeline of federal funding to municipalities after meeting with the Prime Minister.

Drew Dilkens sat down with Justin Trudeau Monday during the Big City Mayor’s Caucus meeting in Ottawa.

Trudeau has said Ottawa is trying to get more infrastructure money to cities and towns, but some provinces are making it difficult.

He did not name any provinces, but Dilkens told BlackburnNews.com it is a problem in Ontario where municipalities are under provincial jurisdiction under the Municipal Act.

“No one’s looking to open up the Constitution and get into that kind of quagmire, but what we’re talking about is practical solutions where there are some programs at the federal level where money could flow directly to municipalities and others where it has to go through the province,” he said. “It’s how do you avoid the friction point and get the money down to the order of government that is going to implement the solution.”

Heavy rain in Windsor-Essex caused flooding across many roadways in the region, also affecting homes and businesses on September 29, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Heavy rain in Windsor-Essex caused flooding across many roadways in the region, also affecting homes and businesses on September 29, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

A local case in point; Windsor has an $89 million plan to overhaul its sewer system to prevent the kind of flooding that has plagued the city in recent years.

“We’ve applied through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund for a $30 million contribution to help make the improvements,” explained Dilkens. “It’s imperative for a project of that magnitude and a city our size that we do get $30-million in funding. Otherwise, it becomes more difficult to achieve because we’ll need more years to set the money aside.”

Another example would be affordable housing.

Dilkens is proud the last council was able to invest in affordable housing for the first time in 30 years, but admitted there is a lot more work to do as wait lists surpass the 5,000 mark.

Trudeau did not make any promises during the meeting, and no concrete solutions were floated, but Dilkens is not discouraged.

“Don’t underestimate the power of being in an election year and having the prime minister, the minister of finance, and the minister of infrastructure in the same room having discussions about issues that are important for Canadians across the country,” he said.