Eighty-six B.C. mayors are planning to attend a three-day caucus in Penticton next week hoping to form a common front on issues that are threatening their ability to deliver core services.
"I anticipate that it will be an incredibly important and fruitful meeting," said Laura Ballance, spokeswoman for the inaugural B.C. Mayors Caucus.
She said each participant will pay $200 for the three-day confab, and cover his or her own accommodation expenses.
Cities, towns and municipalities are responsible for transportation, police and fire services, water, sewerage and garbage, recreation and culture, land-use planning, public health and animal control, but municipal governments receive only eight per cent of the total public revenues, while the province receives 42 per cent and the federal government gets 50 per cent of taxes, according to a press release issued by the mayors.
The Province spoke to four B.C. mayors about their needs:
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie wants the caucus to deal with issues of fairness.
"How can we suggest restructuring that would more fairly share the financial burdens between the levels of government?" Brodie said.
"One of the reasons that the cities are bearing so much of the load is because of downloading."
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said municipalities should be included in publicpolicy discussions with the provincial and federal governments.
"Two-thirds of the Canadian infrastructure is owned by the municipalities. There has to be a realigning and acknowledgment of what that means in terms of ensuring that infrastructure is maintained and well-served in the communities."
Prince George Mayor Shari Green said a revised formula allowing municipalities to pay their ever-increasing bills is her top priority.
"Taxpayers are at the end of their ability to pay, and we have crumbling infrastructure. Maybe we need a local road tax or tolls?"
Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray believes his growing community will benefit from a big-city mayor exchange.
"As we get bigger, we face more of the big-city issues, such as crime, efficiencies in government and exchanging information on our relationship with the RCMP."
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