Guthrie Welcomes LUMCO and Finds Some Common Ground

The first meeting of the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO), with Guelph’s Mayor Cam Guthrie as the chair, took place on Friday. Although the meeting was closed to the public and the media, the mayor did take a few minutes to answer media questions after the meeting about what’s on LUMCO’s plate this term.

“We talked about development charges, we talked about affordable homes, we talked about cannabis legislation. We had presentations from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and from the FCM part there was a lot in regards to the ramp up this year for the Federal election,” Guthrie explained.

“This was the first meeting, so a lot of it was ‘getting to know’ the new faces around the caucus, and we also had the appointment of the chair, which is me, and the election of the vice chair who is Mayor Jeff Lehman from Barrie,” Guthrie added.

Lehman was one of the 20 mayors in attendance out of the 27 members of LUMCO at Friday’s meeting in Guelph. Others confirmed by Guelph Politico included Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, and London Mayor Ed Holder.

“I’m honoured to serve my colleagues as Vice-Chair and support the leadership of Mayor Guthrie as Chair,” said Mayor Lehman in the City’s press release about the meeting. “There are pressing issues affecting Ontario’s largest cities, and mayors will be working together through LUMCO to ensure the provincial and federal governments hear the need for action.”

One of the needs for action is Homecoming parties and other big gatherings of post-secondary students like Waterloo’s St. Patrick’s Day revelries. Universities are addressing Homecoming parties this fall by co-ordinating Homecoming games to prevent tailgating from school to school, but Guthrie said that the issue is bigger than football, and credits Jaworsky for making it a priority.

“It’s more in general around ‘large unsanctioned gatherings’ period, whether they align with a sanctioned Homecoming or university game,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie recently said that he was going to use his new perch to push issues around addressing homelessness, but there’s not much to report on that file yet from LUMCO. The mayor said that they did discuss affordable housing, the 80 per cent of market rates variety, and further discussions were deferred to the May meeting.

“Some of the things that came up involved the tools in the tool box that are already publicly known, and ones that municipalities are about to look at using,” Guthrie explained. Inclusionary zoning, requiring affordable housing units to be included in residential developments of 10 units or more, is one of those options the mayor said was discussed.

“One of the things that we want to make sure of is that there’s not a fulsome development charges overhaul at the Provincial level that would shift the burden more on to the ratepayers,” Guthrie added.

Looking ahead to the Federal election in October, Guthrie said the FCM’s presentation wasn’t dealing yet with specifics. “They want to try and make sure we influence the platform piece, what they’re running on, and to make that they implement it within the mandate given whichever party it is,” Guthrie said, but he does have his own concerns.

“Infrastructure and transit, and the way those [funding] mechanisms are in place to trickle down to the municipalities. This is money that’s there, and it’s just not coming,” he added.

As to the level of government directly above the municipalities, the mayor was asked if LUMCO members found that they had a new sway after the Provincial government cancelled schedule 10 of Bill 66.

“They listened, and it’s not there anymore,” said Guthrie. “But the provincial government has to know that there are more things that we’d like them to listen on.”

Photo Credit: Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman poses with Mayor Cam Guthrie in the council chambers. Courtesy of the City of Guelph.

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