NCLGA debates timely topics

Finding alternate revenue streams a key topic for NCLGA delegates

By all accounts, the North Central Local Government Association’s 58th AGM and Convention in Quesnel was one of the best in recent memory.

Some 250 delegates, representing local governments from 100 Mile House to the Yukon border and from Valemount to Haida Gwaii, enjoyed the May 1-3 event, with its theme – “Driving the Economy.”

Three of the delegates from the South Cariboo – District of 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall, Coun. Spence Henderson and Cariboo Regional District chair Al Richmond – all said this AGM was excellent because the topics and resolutions were all timely for municipal governments.

Campsall, who is now the NCLGA past president, says the sessions were great because they talked about what municipalities are dealing with at this time, and everyone was engaged.

He notes being past president will mean he won’t be nearly as involved as he was last year as president.

“I want to thank the NCLGA staff for all the work they did because I had a great year. As busy as it was, it was just a really good year.”

Henderson was elected as a director-at-large, which was a position he held last year, but this year he was up against seven contenders for the three director-at-large seats at the board.

He also enjoyed the various discussions, including fair share tax programs and conflict of interest presentations.

Henderson says he thought the most important thing coming out of the AGM was a deeper resolve to inform and educate the province south of the Interior that 70 per cent of the resources going into the provincial economy comes from the North, and “they need to help us live and work here and continue to produce that revenue stream.”

“One of the resolutions that speaks to this, talked about the new school bus funding cutbacks. It cuts buses based on population, which causes problems in the North where there are no other options for transportation to schools.”

Richmond agrees the topics were extremely timely at the NCLGA Convention.

“We talked a lot about other forms of revenue than just property-based taxation that local government is so dependent upon.”

On behalf of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, Richmond, who is the third vice-president of UBCM, presented the work the committee he’s on has been doing on local government finance. It will be taking a policy paper to UBCM in June.

Richmond says they had a bit of a workshop and gave the delegates a handful of questions to answer, so they could give feedback to the committee, so it can come up with some solutions.

“We’re looking at other sources of revenue so we can reduce our dependence on property-based taxation, which is really the only thing we have. We have no other sources of income.”

He notes there are examples, such as the Columbia Basin Trust (dam construction), Elkford/Sparwood Agreement (coal) and the Peace River Fair Share Agreement (LNG).

“We’re looking at about 30-plus different options by a variety of governments in Europe and the United States. We’re going to short-list them and present some things we think would be worthy of exploration with the provincial and federal governments to provide a different stream of revenue for local government.”

The CRD presented other resolutions that were passed by the NCLGA delegates and will be moved forward to the UBCM convention in September.

These included permitting for ranchers to apply a treatment to noxious weeds on their range land, which would allow them to do the same as they can do now on their private property; improved fencing on some roads; and moving Heritage Week from the dead of winter to a more seasonal time, so residents could actually participate in the celebration of their heritage sites.

Resolutions and the convention agenda may be viewed on the NCLGA website at www.nclga.ca/conventions.asp.