Local governments including the City of Terrace will be meeting in Vancouver from Sept. 25-27 for the annual Union of BC Municipalities Convention (UBCM).
The convention is the main forum for policy-making in the province, providing an opportunity for local governments to share their experiences and take a united position through passing resolutions on issues of the day.
Below is a summary of the two proposals put forth by Terrace this year:
Liquor tax sharing
Alcohol consumption is believed to have resulted in the need for additional policing in Terrace, and the province should step in an help offset some of these costs, the City of Terrace says.
The city’s resolution is calling on the province to direct a portion of liquor sale revenues to local governments to offset extra policing costs that result from alcohol sales. The resolution was endorsed by the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) at their annual general meeting in May.
“It’s just another form of provincial downloading,” says Coun. James Cordeiro. “The Liquor Distribution Branch is generating revenue, and the city is left paying the policing tab for the social costs associated with their business.”
In 2018, the City of Terrace allocated $4.2 million toward policing, approximately 21 per cent of the city’s total operating costs. A similar resolution was put forward from the City of Courtenay, who cited policing costs as one of the most significant expenditures in the city’s financial plan.
The UBCM Resolutions Committee has recommended its members endorse the proposal. It had also endorsed a similar resolution in 2004, and members have asked for the province to share liquor tax revenue for resourcing liquor license inspectors, alcohol addiction treatment services, drug and alcohol awareness and prevention programs, and detox facilities.
The City of Terrace argues the provincial government should establish a universal plan for childcare facilities without depending on municipalities to create and run them.
In March, the city received a $25,000 provincial childcare planning grant in partnership with UBCM to conduct a research study into the need for spaces in the community but says providing adequate childcare service is a provincial mandate, not a local government’s. The resolution also noted that local government interest in participation in solutions should not be an invitation for further downloading of responsibility or funding for childcare from the province.
“When you look at all these things being offered by the province, they’re offering you incentives when they should be doing this themselves,” said Coun. Sean Bujtas on the resolution earlier this year. “To us, it felt like downloading again. This is work the province should be doing, it’s their mandate, not ours.”
The resolution was endorsed by the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) at their annual general meeting in May. UBCM membership has previously endorsed similar resolutions in 2016, which asked the province to address childcare needs in B.C. and invite interested local governments to collaborate and participate in developing childcare solutions, but with the understanding that childcare is not a core mandate or service for local government.
Over the last three years, the province has invested $1 billion towards the creation of quality, affordable and accessible child care. As part of this commitment, UBCM administers two grant programs with a total of $13.7 million to local governments who are interested in childcare planning and assessment or creating childcare spaces in their communities.