B.C. mayors met in Penticton last week for an Inaugural B.C. Mayors’ Caucus.
On the agenda were items such as a new deal for B.C. communities and building the province’s economy.
The goals for the mayors’ caucus meeting was to discuss common issues facing municipalities, 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 models across North America and Europe, including Alberta, the Big Cities, Atlantic Mayors’ Caucus, Metropolitan Mayors’ Caucus in the United states, and the Summit of Mayors in the European Union.
Mayor Ross Forrest was one of the many mayors in attendance, and before leaving he told the Lake Cowichan Gazette that this is the first mayors’ caucus. “I don’t know what to expect. They anticipate some of the topics to include senior levels of government downloading, infrastructure deficit, taxation, and revenue.”
At the May 8 council meeting, Forrest asked council members if there was anything they would like him to bring forward at the caucus meeting.
Coun. McGonigle suggested asking for new options for municipal tax base revenues. “Given the numbers that were afforded to us earlier (in the meeting) 80.2 per cent of our taxation base came from residential. I think we need another avenue for taxation. We’ve tried avenues of varying tax rates etc. and I think we have to still try to pursue that.” He stated that this would afford the town some leverage to deal with issues such as derelict properties, and said the town needs another avenue to encourage growth and development.
Coun. Day put forward networking with other mayors to generate ideas for growth in a town the size of Lake Cowichan. “How would we, as a small town with no industrial land base, attract a new tax base other than residential.”
Coun. McGonigle also wanted Forrest to bring forward the need for a consistent, merit based grant approval process. He pointed out that grants are approved based on regionalization and not need. “They need to be consistent and fair in the approval process.”
Next week’s issue of the Lake Cowichan Gazette will feature details on Mayor Forrest’s experience at the Mayors’ Caucus and will find out if he was successful in bringing these items to the table.