The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. Transport Minister David Colinette recently said that applying a new tax at the gas pumps would help solve the cash crunch in this country’s municipalities. Only a couple of hours later, the suggestion was put to pasture by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Manley, and rightly so. While no one can deny that the majority of Canadian cities are nearly in a state of financial crisis, there has been some debate about how to give municipalities the financial wherewithal to provide services to its residents. It’s clear that Canadians want better services from all levels of government, but won’t support any increase to their tax burden. So what can be done to improve the financial situation of Canada’s municipalities? A recent dispute between two wireless operators and the City of Ottawa raises a possible solution (see brief in this issue). The city council had proposed to get Telecom Ottawa to build cell phone towers in certain public spots and force the carriers to put their transmission equipment on those towers. While talk of charging the carriers rents for placing their equipment on the common tower infrastructure has not been mentioned, this type of model would certainly provide cities with an additional source of revenue. This type of suggestion will surely raise the ire of the wireless community, which already pays substantial spectrum licence fees to Industry Canada and has spent billions of dollars to build out its networks. It should be noted that the wireless industry isn’t a picture of financial health either. There is also the technical question that optimum performance of cell phone networks requires incredible accuracy in the tower location. But the Ledcor decision of last year demonstrates that "fair" compensation for city land use can be achieved. There can be little doubt that cities shouldn’t be demanding excessive rents from the carriers, as is the case with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, but asking for some financial commitment from the wireless community shouldn’t be out of the question. Canada’s cash strapped municipalities are only looking for ways to increase revenue without having to impose higher taxes on its residents. It should come as no surprise then that they will be asking the wireless carriers to pony up some money.