Mayors meeting to take a new approach to community
Vibrant communities make up the fabric of British Columbia. From large urban centres to small rural towns, B.C.’s strength is defined by the strength of its communities.
Healthy communities are an essential foundation to ensure the continued social, economic and cultural growth of the province as a whole. Despite the fact that municipalities play a leading role in our province, at no time have the challenges facing local government been greater.
A steering committee comprised of nine mayors from across British Columbia are pleased to announce that 86 mayors will meet in Penticton, B.C. May 16 – 18 for the inaugural B.C. Mayors’ Caucus. Grand Forks mayor Brian Taylor told the Sentinel in an interview that he will be attended the meeting next week.
“Having read the 1976 report on municipal finance, Puppets on a shoestring, I believe we are beyond the point of this caucus just being a good idea,” commented Lori Ackerman, mayor of Ft. St. John.
“We need to take action to ensure that our ability to continue to provide services expected in our community and our ability to afford those services do not collide. Peer-to-peer conversations, economies of scale and sharing resources can certainly assist with that and working together will be the beginning”.
The goals of the caucus include: information sharing on common issues facing municipalities in British Columbia; forge policy agreements to bring forward to the Federal and Provincial governments; explore means of mutual support in the delivery of municipal services; seek economic benefits through shared resources; and pursue joint economic development.
The B.C. Mayors’ Caucus is structured after successful models across North America and Europe including the Alberta Mayors’ Caucus, the Big Cities Mayors’ Caucus (Canada), Atlantic Mayors’ Congress (Canada), Metropolitan Mayors’ Caucus (United States) and the Summit of Mayors (EU).
“BC’s municipalities need a new deal with the provincial and federal governments to provide the services our constituents expect,” said Surrey mayor Dianne Watts. “The current model is broken and as Mayors we need to meet to discuss a collaborative approach to reversing the unsustainable trend that most municipalities are facing. Municipalities provide the vast majority of the service in areas such as infrastructure while being given only 8 cents out of every tax dollar to do it. We know that taxpayers are at their limit, so it’s time to discuss new partnerships with the other orders of government.”
Members of the BC Mayors’ Steering Committee are:
Mayor Dean Fortin of Victoria – Vancouver Island, Mayor Dan Ashton of Penticton – Thompson/Okanagan region, Mayor Shari Green of Prince George – Cariboo region, Mayor Jack Mussallem of Prince Rupert – North Coast region, Mayor Wayne Stetski of Cranbrook – Kootenay region, Mayor Lori Ackerman of Fort St. John – Northeast region, Mayor Taylor Bachrach of Smithers – Nechako region, Mayor Dianne Watts of Surrey – Fraser Valley region, Mayor Greg Moore of Port Coquitlam – Lower Mainland region