On the last day of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s annual conference, Guelph MPP and Mike Schreiner got his chance to assume the virtual stage and talk to the delegates. Schreiner’s focus was that Greens aren’t just the people that municipalities should turn to for environmental issues, but that they have a plan for housing and other areas necessary for the post-pandemic recovery.
“The Ontario Greens are committed to working with municipal leaders on a green and caring recovery, and that begins with the Green plan to build livable and affordable communities,” Schreiner said beginning his speech. He laid out a vision including affordability, transit access, complete streets, and easy access to nearby amenities and businesses that don’t require a private automobile.
“We need to build communities with less sprawl so we avoid the long commutes that take us away from family and friends,” Schreiner said. “Instead, let’s build 15-minute communities where all of life’s necessities are just a walk, transit or bike ride away, and where prosperous local economies enable people to work and thrive in urban and rural spaces. These are the types of communities people want, and this is the world Greens want to build.”
Playing to audience, Schreiner said that a Green government would do all this by being a partner with municipalities, and “not just another layer of government.” He then went further by pledging to pick up some of the financial burdens from cities in delivering key services.
“Ontario Greens are committed to provincially funding 50 per cent of all shelter and community housing costs while still allowing municipalities to maintain management control,” Schreiner announced. “Greens are also committed to funding 50 per cent of transit operating costs so we can reduce gridlock by getting people out of cars and onto transit that is affordable, accessible and electrified. The data is clear.”
Of course, the Green Party leader also pledged to support a number of new environmental initiatives to protect remaining farmland and wetlands, and by helping municipalities prepare for the climate crisis that’s already here.
“Without a doubt, municipalities will bear the brunt of climate adaptation and that’s why the Ontario Greens are committed to helping municipalities fund climate adaptation
in their cities and for their infrastructure,” Schreiner said. “We’ll create thousands of jobs in the process, kick-starting the economy as we recover from COVID.”
The 2021 AMO Conference was held entirely virtual for the second year in a row, and it’s notable that this is the last AMO Conference before the next Provincial Election in June. In his speech on Monday, even Premier Doug Ford took a conciliatory tone with delegates praising cities for their COVID response, and their vaccine rollout strategies.
“Our government is committed to ensuring municipalities have the resources they need to keep their communities safe, and today’s funding will help our local partners deliver critical services, support vulnerable people, and unlock affordable housing in their communities,” Ford said.