Atlantic mayors meet in Summerside

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Atlantic mayors meet in Summerside

Some P.E.I. mayors are hoping to form a united front with their Atlantic counterparts on a couple of key issues at the Atlantic Mayors Congress in Summerside.

The annual meeting, which looks at issues facing municipalities, got underway Thursday.

The three P.E.I. communities being represented are Summerside, Charlottetown and Kensington.  

The varied agenda includes topics such as asset management, newcomer entrepreneurs, tourism, urban planning and energy production and storage. 

Carbon tax on mayors' minds 

Delegates also get to have their say on other issues in roundtable discussions, and one that most mayors in attendance wanted to discuss was the upcoming federal carbon tax.  

Kensington Mayor Rowan Caseley said he is eager to learn more. 

"A little nervous as to what it might potentially cost us because we really don't know," he said. "It's certainly got the potential to be a big financial impact to our municipality."

Summerside Mayor Bill Martin said his staff has told him the new tax will greatly affect the city's bottom line. 

He is hoping that the Atlantic mayors can make a stand together. 

"I would hope collectively we could agree and have conversations with the provincial governments who are going to administer this to have some offsets available to major expenses and municipalities," he said 

Events, housing on Charlottetown's agenda 

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee would like to see collaboration on two specific things. First, attracting more events to the region. 

"We need to recognize that cities in Atlantic Canada can't compete with Torontos and Vancouvers," he said. "So as a result I think we need to come together and host events jointly all across Atlantic Canada."

The second issue is a national one that Lee said needs to be fixed — affordable housing.

"The reality is, what we're missing in this country from a housing strategy is the ongoing operational costs," said Lee

"Right now the federal government provides no funding for operational costs going forward, they're there to help you build these projects or houses throughout our communities, but you need money to sustain them long term."

Lee says the group gathered this week needs to put pressure on their federal counterparts. 

"What I'm suggesting here today is that the Atlantic Mayors Congress should be providing some type of advice to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities who are obviously working very closely with the federal government on social housing," he said.

"I think somebody needs to take a stand and if this is the group that begins that discussion across our country then so be it," he added

 "Affordable housing is a real issue all across Canada and for a country such as Canada in our 150th anniversary year we need to come up with a housing strategy that works. "

The meetings continue Friday until mid-day.

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