Mayor Clark’s Statement on Western Economic Solutions Taskforce Summit
I spent yesterday at the Western Economic Solutions Taskforce with municipal and federal leaders exploring solutions to the economic uncertainty being experienced in Western Canadian communities.
It was an important meeting for rural and urban leaders to discuss with each other what the concerns are in their communities, to identify common ground and what it will take to find a path forward.
We emphasized to the Federal Ministers at the meeting – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly – that municipal leaders are the closest to the ground and understand the local realities of their communities the best. For this reason, we need to be at the table with the other levels of government to discuss what solutions will work best for our communities. Rather than have change happen to us, we want to drive the change.
We discussed improving market access, the tensions between energy and climate policies, supports for economic diversification, and investment in local infrastructure.
Acknowledging the urgency of the situation, we also brought forward a series of quick-response recommendations for the upcoming federal budget:
▶ Creating a program to support faster reclamation of abandoned oil and gas wells alongside efforts to address the regulatory environment and industry liability;
▶ Compensating farmers for the cost of federal carbon pricing on grain drying through a rebate or similar mechanism; and
▶ Urgently implementing the Infrastructure Minister’s mandate letter commitment to create a new infrastructure fund for communities in oil and gas regions.
In the coming months, the taskforce will continue to propose a full range of concrete recommendations for the federal government to adopt.