The prospect of the city producing what Kelowna’s mayor predicts will be the biggest and “most boring” advertisement ever has prompted him to suggest municipalities in B.C. lobby the province to change a requirement in municipal law that makes it mandatory for cities and towns to advise their business in local newspapers.
Walter Gray said in the Internet age, municipalities should not be forced to run advertisements such an upcoming eight-page ad listing hundreds of statutory rights-of-way it plans to transfer to Fortis B.C. as part of its deal to sell the assets of its electric utility to the company.
Council was told about the plan for the ad Monday. It will run over eight pages in the Capital News and will be the biggest city news advertisement Kelowna has ever run, said general manager of community services John Vos.
Vos told council that under the Community Charter, the provincial law that governs how municipalities operate, there is a requirement to advertise when city land is being sold or transferred.
The newspaper advertisement will consist of eight pages of rights-of-way addresses. In a city report the list covers 29 regular letter-sized pages.
That prompted Gray to question why such a requirement still exists.
“It’s about time we saved some trees,” said the mayor. “This is the epitome of stupidity.”
He wants the city, through the Union of B.C. Municipalities to lobby Victoria to allow such advertising to be done solely on the city’s website.
The transfer of the rights-of-way, as well as two small pieces of property where electric utility equipment is located, is part of the city’s deal with Fortis.
The deal is expected to be complete by the end of the month and will give the city $55 million that it intends to then re-invest in Fortis, making it a shareholder in the company rather than the operator of an electric utility. The company will get the utilities assets and run utility in return.
The reason for the deal, from the city’s point of view, is because its studies show it will have to invest millions over the next 20 years to upgrade its existing electric utility infrastructure. So, instead, it plans to invest the funds it receives in Fortis in order to make money for taxpayers.
The deal was approved after an insufficient number of residents signed petitions opposing it under the controversial alternate approval process last fall.
The process puts the onus on opponents to a municipal plan to gather enough signatures to either force a referendum vote orhave the proposal cancelled.
While municipalities are allowed to conduct business using this “reverse billing” process, it is illegal for businesses use it.