COLUMN: A celebration of local government services

It is the middle of Local Government Awareness Week, with a number of different events still to come.

Nelson hosted the Union of BC Municipalities convention six times

Nelson hosted the Union of BC Municipalities convention six times

It is the middle of Local Government Awareness Week, with a number of different events still to come. Local government is the first contact for citizens who can access a number of local public services for their benefit.

You can attend a free barbecue today from 12 to 1 p.m. at the Regional District of Central Kootenay office on Lakeside Dr., which includes a visit with directors and staff. Tomorrow the Village of Salmo will host open houses at the village office, fire hall and KP Park to meet mayor, council and staff as well as see their fire trucks on display. The week ends on Friday with a free barbecue at Nelson city hall from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Meet with mayor, council, and staff, who will show city equipment and vehicles which will be on display.

The idea is to become aware of public services provided by the different local governments which are covered by the taxes. While some people are not happy with paying taxes, taxes pay for city services such as water and sewer, sidewalks and pavement, recycling and garbage pick-up, subdivisions and building permits, and maintenance of parks and recreation spaces. As well, we have the arts and culture committee, library, police, fire and rescue and Nelson Hydro. Check your tax notice at the end of June to see which taxes are for city services and which taxes are collected by the city for hospital, schools, etc.

Unfortunately, municipalities are the recipient of downloading of costs from the federal and provincial governments. Over the years, municipalities have had to bear the burden of a proportional decrease of funding for mental health and social programs which can add to our local policing costs. To assist the police, currently council is looking at final reading of the panhandling by-law coming up at the next meeting. Our province is the only one in Canada without a poverty reduction plans and, as of April 1, BC has the lowest minimum wage. In spite of all this, we still have one of the safest cities in BC to live in and raise a family with the credit going to our police force.

While many citizens use public services daily, local governments try to provide these services as cost effectively as possible, by using new processes and innovative technologies. That being said, local governments hope citizens and visitors will partake in some of the many events still to occur during the rest of Local Government Awareness Week. As well a big thank you to all our volunteers and public servants who do a great job keeping the city running.

Nelson city councillor Robin Cherbo shares this space weekly with his council colleagues.