Province shouldn’t ignore civic governments

Newfound spirit of cooperation between Victoria and municipal halls around the province would be welcomed.

As municipal leaders gather in Vancouver this week for their annual provincial gabfest, there is no shortage of things for them to talk about.

Gang violence, transit, transportation, housing, economic development, jobs…the list goes on and on.

The Union Of B.C. Municipalities annual meeting may seem like a dry issue for most of us— kind of like a week-long council meeting without the “excitement” of local flavour— but it serves an important purpose.

The old adage that there’s strength in numbers holds true when it comes to municipalities in B.C.

Contrary to what many may think, municipalities are not a “true” form of government in this country— at least not in the recognized way.

They exist at the whim of the province. Granted, that whim comes with enabling legislation that not only allows them to exist but lays down certain rights and responsibilities, but it’s still a subservient position.

In the pecking order of politics, municipal government is at the bottom.

But it is also the most accessible level of governent to those being governed.

When 160 municipalities get together and demand change, the province tends to take notice.

It  doesn’t always listen but a demand from the UBCM does get Victoria’s attention.

So, it’s no wonder Okanagan Valley mayors held their own annual tête-à-tête last week prior to heading to the UBCM gathering. (See story A4).

There, they hammered out positions on the issues they see as front and centre— continued funding for B.C.’s combined cop unit that is going after gangs, provincial money to to stop forest fires before they start by cleaning up potential fire fuels, intersection safety on our roads and the subject many of them took to Victoria two weeks ago, more say in how their respective transit systems are run.

The aim this week will be to get other municipal leaders to agree so Victoria will then have to listen.

But that has not always been the government’s strong suit.

Still, with an economy that has yet to rebound and still reeling from the voters rejection of the HST and a hole that decision will blow in its budget, this may be the year the folks calling the shots in Victoria pay a little more attention to the “little” people.

A few years back, the Liberal government made a big deal of announcing it now recognized municipalities as a form of government.

And in recent years it has participated in partnerships on everything from social housing to roads to infrastructure (albeit because it did not want to foot as much of the bill as it has in the past).

So it’s time for the newfound spirit of cooperation to be expanded and for Victoria to not only listen to municipalities, but to start acting on some of its requests.


Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.



Just Posted

Basement fire quickly extinguished

Fire crews quickly extinguished a basement fire at a home in Kelowna

West Kelowna neighbourhood fed up with criminal activity

Prowler frustrating West Kelowna residents

Kelowna motel robbed, suspect sought

The suspect threatened to harm the lone front desk clerk and demanded money.

Kelowna airport hosts accessibility event

Canucks Autism Network event brings families together to help deal with air travel

Penticton reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

Heavy snowfall expected on Coquihalla

Snow forecast for mountain highways

Annett finishes season on the podium at Ironman Arizona

Penticton triathlete sets new course record on the bike

Cash donations create purchasing power

Salvation Army and food banks stretch a donated dollar a long way

Hergott: A pedestrian’s legal obligation

Lawyer Paul Hergott questions the moral obligation of pedestrians and motorists

Coyotes grab Okanagan boys title

George Elliott defeats Seaton in AA volleyball final, seeded third heading to provincials

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

Last day for shoeboxes at Kelowna Gospel Fellowship

Kelowna church has been gathering gifts for kids in need in countries around the world

Owls soar to Okanagan volleyball title

KSS girls win 4A championship for 12th straight year beating Pen Hi in final

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Most Read