BC government must listen to municipal delegates at UBCM convention, says Olsen – Saanich News

The provincial government shouldn’t use next month’s municipal elections as a cover to avoid addressing municipal concerns, local MPP Adam Olsen said.

He made the comments Monday from Whistler, which hosts the first in-person convention of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities since 2019.

The conference will run until Friday, September 16, after starting on Monday, September 12. Olsen acknowledged that this year’s conference may not see as many delegates as in previous years due to municipal elections.

Prospective delegates can focus on their election campaigns, more pressing issues at home, or simply choose not to attend as they may not show up again.

But if even fewer delegates come, Olsen said the provincial government shouldn’t ignore the concerns of current delegates in the hope that next month’s municipal elections could reshuffle the cards in favor of less experienced and more flexible municipal officials. .

“Personally I’ve seen examples over the last few weeks where the government doesn’t want to engage because maybe they’re going to see a different set of elected people at the local government level and I think that’s fake,” he said. . “I think they need to listen to the people who are elected until someone else has been elected to that seat. In fact, that cohort of councillors, Island administrators and directors of regional district is the most experienced.

Olsen said this provincial government – ​​like the previous provincial government (which depended on the support of Olsen’s Greens) – must forge a new relationship with elected local government officials. “They need to show greater respect for the work that mayors, councilors and elected officials do by supporting them with a new fiscal arrangement that reflects the reality of the work we are asking our local governments to do.”

Municipalities — which are the responsibility of provincial governments under Canada’s Constitution — have long complained of limited taxing powers, with property taxes being their primary source of revenue, and the unpredictability of funding arrangements, while assuming an increasing number of responsibilities under the broader heading of provincial downloading.

“We’re downloading them more and more,” Olsen said, adding that the provincial government needs to adopt a more collaborative and less confrontational tone with municipalities.

Olsen, who served as an adviser to Central Saanich before entering provincial politics, said a number of issues will create tension between delegates on the one hand and provincial representatives on the other. “Health care, the housing crisis we are facing, mental health, addiction and the drug poisoning crisis,” he said, listing some of the issues that could generate this tension.

Although the convention features a number of panels dealing with a range of related socio-economic and technological issues, the convention has always been a forum for municipal officials to ask the provincial government for specific policies through a process formal resolution and informal lobbying.

“We have very difficult issues in our constituency, especially in the southern Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island,” Olsen said. “I will be meeting with (provincial officials) in the days and weeks ahead to really express my concern about some of the challenges we face with health care in the Saanich Peninsula, the southern Gulf Islands and some of the housing problems. We see it in our communities, communities see it across the province, and yet we keep hearing the government say that British Columbia has the strongest economy in the country, yet millions of British Columbians are left behind for account.

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Municipal election in British Columbia

Melissa C. Keyes