A disconnect between local government and the provincial and federal governments was apparent to Mayor John Dooley after meeting with 86 other community leaders at last week’s inaugural BC Mayors’ Caucus.
“I was going over there with an open mind, but it was actually very interesting to see that most people are facing the very same challenges in the province regardless of the location or size of their communities,” said Dooley.
While no action items were agreed upon, the mayors announced in a press release on Friday that they support the following statement:
“BC communities are frontline service providers for our citizens and we are seeking a new partnership with the provincial and federal governments in the best interests of all of our communities. The BC Mayors’ Caucus requests an immediate discussion on the efficient use of existing resources to better address the challenges our residents face.”
Dooley said there are too many programs that are changing both at the provincial and federal levels that now have to be picked-up by the municipal governments.
“They are just being abandoned for the most part by the province or the feds and we’re left holding the bag,” he said. “A prime example is housing and social services. The ad hoc way in which grants are handed out and the parameters around which grants are handed out, there is not common sense attached to them.”
The mayors broke into smaller groups during the Mayors’ Caucus held in Penticton and Dooley was surprised at how similar the topics of conversation were between the different communities.
“I went through a similar exercise a few years ago at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and an example of what came out of that was the infrastructure deficit,” he said. “It was an exercise that clearly indicated that was a challenge from coast to coast to coast. The same thing happened at the Mayors’ Caucus.”
A steering committee was formed at the Caucus including nine mayors who will decide on a list of action items leading up to the next meeting prior to the meeting of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.
“I really don’t think people going to Penticton had any idea that we would be on similar page at the end of the day, had we known that I think the meeting in Penticton would have been more action oriented,” he said.
“The bottom line is we want to be thoughtful about this decision and we want to be very calculated in how we manage going forward because we expect results,” he said. “There is no point in going out with two barrels blazing without being able to support fully our requirements and a strategy not only for us to manage the requests but also for the province and the feds.”