Vancouver, September 26, 2016 – The BC Chamber of Commerce is concerned about the UBCM’s resolution to oppose any provincial government involvement in cases of local government amalgamation.
“Municipal governments are autonomous bodies and should be respected as such, however we do believe that there is a role for the province to play in deciding whether amalgamation makes sense for certain jurisdictions,” said Val Litwin, BC Chamber President and CEO.
There are several examples of municipalities in B.C. that share common boundaries, creating a situation where a specific geographical area is serviced by both a municipality and regional district. Litwin says that this can lead to confusion among residents and business owners trying to access local services.
“In cases like the City of Vernon, the District Municipality of Coldstream and the bordering unincorporated areas, you run into situations where people are uncertain about which governing body is providing the services they need,” said Litwin.
“The issue becomes more troublesome when you consider how services are funded, because this situation allows for people living outside the boundaries of a municipality to still benefit from all the services, infrastructure and programs that are being paid for by those living within the municipal jurisdiction.”
The BC Chamber strongly supports the notion that the Minister responsible for a local government should have the authority, in specific situations, to initiate a regional governance review where they believe it to be in the best interest of the region, and have the ability to act on the recommended outcome of the review.
In addition, the BC Chamber is concerned about the following resolutions included in the 2016 UBCM Resolutions manual released ahead of the annual UBCM conference:
- A request for the BC Government to call on BC Hydro and its contractors to immediately suspend all work on the Site C Dam project until the project is reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission and engages in a public hearing and consultation process.
“We share UBCM’s view that there must be adequate consultation, and in our view, Site C has already undergone significant consultation with various public and private groups,” said Val Litwin, BC Chamber President and CEO. “Time is of the essence – the cost to build will only go up the longer we wait, so we need to get moving on this project now.”
- A call on the provincial government to implement regulatory requirements to consult local governments at the same level as First Nations on projects involving resource extraction and other industrial developments in all aspects of potential impact.
“The duty to consult and accommodate First Nations is constitutionally protected and a standard part of stakeholder consultation on resource development projects,” said Val Litwin, BC Chamber President and CEO. “If local governments were to be included in the consultation process, and furthermore, at the same level as First Nations, it injects a new level of uncertainty in an already complex environment.”
The BC Chamber is the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province. Representing more than 125 Chambers of Commerce and 36,000 businesses of every size, sector and region of the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce is “The Voice of Business in BC.”
– 30 –
For further details, please contact:
BC Chamber of Commerce