George Le Masurier photo
Local pleas at UBCM this week: fire halls, groundwater, herring and liquor taxes
Many of the Comox Valley’s 29 municipal elected officials will attend the annual Union of BC Municpality’s 2019 convention in Vancouver this week, and some will present resolutions they hope delegates will endorse and lead to provincial change.
UBCM resolutions usually originate from specific local issues, but address issues common to other municipalities. They almost always have the support of regional associations, such as the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities.
Here are some of the key resolutions from our region.
Property transfer tax redistribution for affordable housing
This resolution from the Comox Valley Regional District would petition the BC government to share some of the $2 billion in annual property taxes with local government to address housing for low-income citizens. The UBCM has made similar requests of the provincial government in the past.
Share of liquor tax for policing
Courtenay bears the bulk of policing costs for the Comox Valley and it’s one of the city’s biggest expenses. So councillors want a portion of the BC Liquor tax dedicated to municipalities to help pay for policing. The city argues that the availability of alcohol can have significant impacts on local policing costs.
Single use disposable products
Powell River wants the BC government to impose an environmental fee on all single-use plastic products and packaged goods entering the BC marketplace. The idea is to incentivize retailers, manufacturers and the industry to reduce reliance on single-use products and to help subsidize regional solid waste management programs. UBCM has endorsed similar actions in the past, but this is the first resolution that includes an environmental fee.
This resolution from the Strathcona Regional District would require the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development to stop issuing licenses for the extraction of groundwater for commercial water bottling or bulk water exports from aquifers. The SRD argues that water is an essential resource and a public trust for present and future generations and must not be compromised by commercial operations. UBCM has endorsed related resolutions in the past.
Funding fire halls and public safety buildings
The Village of Cumberland requests the BC government to amend the Local Government Act to allow development cost charges to be used for expansion of fire protection infrastructure. Community growth has a direct impact on municipal expenses to provide fire and public safety, including buildings. There is another similar resolution to modernize municipal development financing that asks the province to conduct a comprehensive review of funding mechanisms for growth-related infrastructure services.
Public Library funding
Strathcona Regional District says the province’s libraries exist on levies paid by local governments and provincial library funding has been stagnant for 30 years. The SRD wants the province to add $20 million to the 2020 budget for libraries across the province, and ensure a sustainable level of funding in the future. The city of Sidney and others have requested similar actions this year.
Moratorium on Hornby and Denman Fishery
The CVRD wants the Department of Fisheries to place a moratorium on the annual herring fishery located around Hornby and Denman islands, or at least a sizable reduction in the allowable catch in 2020. Four of the five herring fishery locations on the BC coast have already been closed. The K’omoks First Nation is concerned about current harvest levels along with more than 70,000 people who have signed a petition against keeping the last herring fishery location open.
WHAT IS THE UBCM?
The UBCM was formed to provide a common voice for local government and this role is as important today as it was 100 years ago. The UBCM reflects the truth in the old adages “strength in numbers” and “united we stand – divided we fall”.
Convention continues to be the main forum for UBCM policy-making. It provides an opportunity for local governments of all sizes and from all areas of the province to come together, share their experiences and take a united position.
Positions developed by members are carried to other orders of government and other organizations involved in local affairs. Policy implementation activities have expanded from annual presentations to Cabinet to UBCM involvement in intergovernmental committees, regular meetings with Ministers and contact on a daily basis with senior government.
In today’s ever-changing world, where shifts in senior government policies, or in economic, social or political conditions, can have an immediate effect on local government, UBCM stands as a “listening post”. UBCM initiates, monitors, interprets and reacts where such changes could have an effect on local governments and the communities they serve.
The result is improved local government and BC’s communities are the real winners. Through the UBCM, local government has achieved much, and the potential is always there to achieve even more.
— UBCM website
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