Mayor Mayor Rob MacDougall of Fort St. James participates in the inaugural BC Mayors' Caucus happening in Penticton

Mayor Mayor Rob MacDougall of Fort St. James participates in the inaugural BC Mayors' Caucus happening in Penticton

Mayor MacDougall returns from Mayor’s Caucus

Mayor Mayor Rob MacDougall of Fort St. James participated in the inaugural BC Mayors' Caucus happening in Penticton.

Mayor Rob MacDougall returned from the inaugural meeting of the BC Mayor’s Caucus last week.

There were 86 mayors from across the province at the meeting in Penticton, and the take-home message seemed to be: better use of existing resources.

“I think for us, it’s the infrastructure, and how we’re struggling to maintain it in every community in British Columbia,” said MacDougall. “I think it was unanimous, that each and every one of us were concerned with long-term guaranteed funding so we could plan on doing upgrades annually … it allows us to do up five or 10-year capital plans and follow up on them.”

The mayors now hope to meet before the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Convention in September, with a roundtable set up in the meantime to prioritize the points brought forward at the mayors caucus.

“We need to just go and just have a discussion …the time has come to form longer-term partnerships (with other levels of government) and be able to move forward on some of the projects in some of the communities,” said MacDougall.

The initial goal will be to form some longer-term partnerships with the provincial governments, and then hopefully to move on to form similar longer-term arrangements with the federal government as well.

So far the mayors have put forward the following suggestions of what they would like to see:

 

⁃    Create a Premier’s Round Table with the BC Mayors’ Caucus to discuss public policy changes that affect local government budgets and delivery of services;

⁃    Eliminate the ad hoc granting process in favour of one that is sustainable, accountable, quantifiable and allows for long term planning by local governments;

⁃    Expand the mandate of the Municipal Auditor General to include an examination of the financial impacts of downloading on local governments;

⁃    Develop a round table on aging infrastructure that includes federal, provincial and local government participation;

⁃    Affirm the core service delivery of each order of government;

⁃    Redesign the cost sharing formula for significant infrastructure projects to reflect the tax revenue distribution;

⁃    If services are devolved to local governments, a sustainable revenue source for those services must be identified;

⁃    Develop a coordinated approach to how social services are delivered into a community;

⁃    Call for a full review of ambulance service delivery;

⁃    Establish flexibility around the federal gas tax to be goal oriented to the priorities of the specific communities;

⁃    Expand the application of the fair share principles province-wide and to include other industry sectors.

The list will be refined and prioritized over the next few months and then brought forward at the UBCM.

MacDougall will be discussing the points with council to prioritize them for the local community, and he will then take their input back to the area representative on the steering committee for the mayors caucus, Mayor Taylor Bachrach of Smithers.