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Climate change, transit and affordable housing are Savage's priorities at Ottawa meeting

Canada's big city mayors are meeting to lay out their priorities for the federal budget this spring
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Mike Savage speaks to media after winning 2016 municipal election. (Andrew Pinsent/

Halifax's mayor is outlining his main priorities ahead of the upcoming federal budget.

Mike Savage is in Ottawa for the Big City Mayors' Caucus, where representatives from Canada's largest cities are gathering to discuss their shared issues.

Savage believes climate change is one of the biggest concerns facing our municipality this year.

"We have a plan coming to council in the next couple of months that will outline a lot of priorities and I'm sure transit will be a part of that, as will other green infrastructure," he said.

Affordable housing is also on his mind and Savage said its availability will define whether Halifax has sustainable growth over the next decade.

"We're not in the position that Toronto and Vancouver are in, but we're a very rapidly growing city and we're getting to be a place where it's harder and harder to rent, but also for people to have home ownership in a place which makes sense for them," he explained.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation recently pegged Halifax's rental vacancy rate at 1 per cent, which is a new low.

Savage said HRM is having conversations with the province on the issue.

"I think we all agree we need to move faster on that," he added.

Savage said federal investments have helped Halifax plan some major projects and he hopes to be able to build on those.

"Things like getting trucks out of the downtown from the port, that's a big deal and that was the federal Trade Corridors Fund," he said. "The Transit Infrastructure Fund we used for bike lanes and we're using money for new buses."

"We're working actively on looking at how we can make sure that our transit fleet is renewable and we're not just continuing to clog up the air with the old buses."

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said to expect the environment to be one of the key focuses of this spring's budget.


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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