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Ontario’s Big City Mayors Host AGM/Conference in Burlington

Apr 22, 2024Housing, Infrastructure, Mental Health and Addictions, Top Stories

April 22, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON – On Thursday April 18th and Friday April 19th, Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) gathered in Burlington for their Annual General Meeting and Conference. 

We kicked off the two day event with an opening reception where the Mayors welcomed Premier Doug Ford, Minister Todd McCarthy, Associate Minister Vijay Thanigasalam, MPP Matthew Rae – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing as well as AMO President Colin Best, local MPPs, the Regional Chair of Halton, and Burlington City Councillors. Their participation and attendance at our AGM/Conference is a reflection of the strong partnerships we’ve built to address important municipal issues including the housing crisis.

The Premier addressed the Mayors and attendees, speaking to the importance of a collaborative relationship between the province and municipalities. He spoke to many shared priorities for municipalities including housing, as well as working together to grow our local economies. 

The reception was followed by a dinner where we welcomed Minister Paul Calandra and our keynote speaker, Jennifer Keesmaat who discussed how municipalities can do their part in building complete communities through innovative design, embracing gentle density and working with all partners in the home building process.

On Friday, we had a productive day of meetings where we heard from political leaders including the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Ontario NDP, Marit Stiles along with Ontario Liberal Party Leader Bonnie Crombie and Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner. We were encouraged that all three of the opposition party leaders pledged to bring in a new deal for cities.

The day’s discussions focused on OBCM’s three key priorities: Housing and Housing Enabling Infrastructure, a New Fiscal Deal for Municipalities and Mental Health, Addictions and Homelessness. 

The Mayors were also able to hear from representatives from our municipal partners the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) on how we can work together to advance our shared priorities. We then ended our day with an update about the mental health, addictions and homelessness crisis from CMHA Ontario, followed by important discussions where mayors were able to share their municipality’s experience and the kinds of programming and funding that is needed to tackle this ongoing crisis. These discussions will help our ongoing work to update our Health and Homelessness Strategy to reflect the ongoing needs of municipalities as this issue continues to grow and change.

We also passed a motion requesting that the provincial government increase the “Heads and Beds” levy for municipalities with post-secondary institutions, hospitals and correctional facilities across Ontario (motion below).

“I was delighted to welcome my fellow Mayors as well as many special guests and political leaders, including Premier Doug Ford to Burlington for our two day OBCM AGM/Conference. It is so important to come together, to learn from each other and have the tough conversations needed to truly understand and address the issues at hand for Ontario’s largest municipalities,” said Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor of Burlington and Chair of OBCM. 

“We know our voices are being heard, given the recent investments in housing-enabling infrastructure by the federal and provincial governments – something our caucus has been advocating for and we will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure municipalities receive their fair share.”

About Ontario’s Big City Mayors

Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) is an organization that includes mayors of 29 single and lower-tier cities with a population of 100,000 or more, who collectively represent nearly 70 percent of Ontario’s population. OBCM advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities.

Media Contacts

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Chair               Michelle Baker, Executive Director                                          

905-335-7777                                                        647-308-6602


Motion Requesting that the Provincial Government Increase the “Heads and Beds” levy for Ontario Municipalities 

Mayor Dorothy McCabe – Waterloo

Whereas the Heads and Beds levy program was established in 1987 as a payment-in-lieu of property taxes to compensate municipalities for the cost of services – transit, roads, sewers, parks, recreation, arts and culture) provided to post-secondary students, public hospitals and correctional facilities in our communities,

Whereas, despite frequent and ongoing requests of the provincial government to increase this levy by CPI annually, the current rate of $75 per bed for municipalities has been in place since 1987 and in 2024 terms, the Heads and Beds levy should be at least $165 per bed, 

Whereas Ontario’s municipalities continue to face significant financial pressures, and 

Whereas post-secondary institutions, public hospitals and correctional facilities in our municipalities play a significant role in enhancing our vitality, economic development opportunities, talent attraction ability and are an essential component of our community; Therefore be it resolved that to reflect the escalated costs of service delivery, infrastructure and inflation, the province – at a minimum – increase the “Heads and Beds” levy for municipalities with post-secondary institutions, hospitals and correctional facilities to $165 per bed and annualize this levy to ensure it keeps pace with ongoing costs. 

And that a copy of this motion be sent to:

  • The Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario 
  • The Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance 
  • The Hon. Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities  
  • The Hon. Victor Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
  • MPP Mike Harris, Kitchener-Conestoga 
  • Alan Shepard, Chair, Ontario University Council
  • Alan Harrison, Chair, Blue Ribbon Panel on Post-Secondary Education on Financial Sustainability 

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