Your voice needs to be heard:
Canadian members had it and U.S. members could lose it.

By David Downey, CAE, Assoc. AIA, President & CEO

David Downey, CAEAdvocating for good public policy is an ongoing responsibility for all downtown organizations whether it is at the municipal, provincial/state, or federal level. Earlier this week, I was fortunate to work with members of the IDA Canadian Issues Task Force (CITF) to continue developing long term policy strategies for urban centers across Canada. I also had the pleasure of attending the Canadian Urban Forum on Infrastructure Investment. Like most urban centers throughout the world, the core infrastructure throughout Canadian cities has become extremely outdated.

The CITF produced a “Downtown Declaration” several years back which calls for re-establishing the national Ministry of Urban Affairs. A 1970s era agency, the Ministry successfully focused attention on urban core development issues and it is thought that a renewed commitment from the Canadian National Government is needed.

In the United States, under the Obama Administration, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities was formed to establish an interagency partnership between the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is not a single ministry but certainly a step in the right direction (see description at http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov/). The challenge remains, however, to continually fight for federal budget resources in support of the partnership.

The voice of U.S. downtown organizations needs to be heard as, just this week, a House Appropriations Subcommittee voted to eliminate all funding for key programs at the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), both part of the Partnership. The proposed cuts would be disastrous for communities across the country. Many are using the Partnership's help to slowly rebuild their economies, create jobs and improve the development environment. Among the programs that would be affected is HUD’s Office of Economic Resilience and DOT's popular TIGER program.

The Senate will soon consider this same bill and they need to hear that these programs are important. Congress is facing many tough fiscal decisions this year, and it's up to us to make sure these programs continue. Community development projects are a worthwhile investment of taxpayer dollars, and yield economic returns for businesses, communities and taxpayers alike. Please visit www.house.gov to find your representative and ask them to reinstate appropriations support for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Additional information and access to your representative can be found by visiting the Smart Growth America website.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities