There is another feather in Nelson’s cap and a strengthened local tie with Ottawa following last week’s Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Annual Conference and Tradeshow, held in Vancouver.
Nelson Mayor John Dooley has been re-elected to the nation-wide organization’s board, as chair of the BC Caucus, for a second year.
“Being elected by fellow BC mayors, councillors and regional district representatives is an even greater honour the second time ‘round, for both the City and myself, ” says Dooley. “It’s a great advantage to the people of Nelson and the citizens of British Columbia, because I’m that much more familiar with the FCM’s processes and systems. Last year I made a lot of connections on the federal front. Now the people we need to work with in Ottawa know me, and I know them.”
In his role as chair, Dooley will represent 181 BC local governments, including villages, cities and regional districts.
Last week, an Angus Reid survey found that 71 per cent of Canadians are satisfied with their local government services — that’s a higher percentage of satisfaction than any other level of government. Municipalities provide the lion’s share of front-line services to Canadians, while collecting just eight cents of every tax dollar.
“While local governments strive to continue improving all of the essential services they provide to Canadians,” says FCM president Claude Dauphin. “Whether it’s clean water, safe streets, or fast, reliable public transit, the survey results show we have a foundation of support among our citizens to build on.”
“It’s time to partner for the greater good of the country and we are just getting started.”
Dooley stresses that municipal and federal governments working together must be the rule, not the exception.
More than 1,800 municipal delegates attended the FCM’s Vancouver event, the organization’s 76th annual conference. And for the first time, says Dooley, BC had 100 per cent participation from all of its FCM member communities — the highest level of participation of any province or territory in the nation this year.
The mayor says there are many reasons to fully participate in the FCM, but few as financially vital as the Federal Gas Tax initiative. Between 2008 and 2011, the City of Nelson received $1.6 million in funding from the initiative. Residents can see what sort of local projects the cash was earmarked for, by visiting fcm.ca/home/issues/infrastructure/federal-gas-tax-fund.
Dooley points out that not only is the gas tax fund an effort that was successfully lobbied for by FCM members, it’s also indexed to grow every year along with the rate of inflation — a move that will earn the city hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in years to come.
The FCM’s Annual Conference is a chance for municipal leaders to learn from experts and their peers, connect with their municipal colleagues across Canada, and influence federal decision-making on critical issues that affect municipalities.
In the year’s federal budget, the government announced it would invest $50 billion over the next 10 years to build better local roads, bridges and water systems. By taking part in the conference, delegates were able to find out how their communities can access new federal infrastructure funding and help.