The Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver last week was an opportunity to have a unified voice, according to Burnaby Coun. Sav Dhaliwal.
Dhaliwal, along with Burnaby councillors Paul McDonell and Nick Volkow attended the weeklong convention that passed about 150 resolutions regarding issues on mental health, recycling and four-year terms, among many others.
"A whole swath of resolutions came forward, almost 150 of them, and some of them are a lot more important than others," Dhaliwal told the NOW. "It gives us the opportunity to have a voice at the table and share the success stories we have in Burnaby."
One controversial issue that came up was the Multi-Material B.C. contract, which caught the ire of many municipalities across the province as districts felt the rates being offered weren't enough to match the service. The deadline to sign was on Sept. 16.
"We all wanted to deal with was the recycling contract with Multi-Material B.C.," Dhaliwal said. "Basically the problem with that one was how the contracts were being offered to local governments and almost unanimously, municipalities across the province felt this was a little too fast, too quick and not having time to have a proper consultation."
The resolution called for a 90-day extension to sign the contract, he added.
Dhaliwal said a major highlight for him was a presentation made on the fiscal futures of local governments.
"We continually, year after year, raise the issue of how difficult it is for us to solely rely on property taxes in order to continue to provide services desired by citizens," he said. "It's become obvious the property taxes alone are not enough to fund our service programs that local governments are responsible for."
A proposal was brought forward to work with the B.C. government, so when a provincial budget or the economy performs better than expected, the additional revenue would come back to the local governments, Dhaliwal said.
"Going in to the future, we're trying to leverage some of the growth and revenue, when it's better than expected revenue growth," he said. "We're asking that we get a little bit better share of that rather than the way it is now, close to 50/50. We're looking to increase it to over 65 per cent over a few years."
Dhaliwal said the provincial government was open to working with the municipal organization on the recommendation.
"That was well received," he said. "It's one by which the local governments have a bit more assured revenue rather than solely relying on property taxes."
The City of Burnaby also put forward a few resolutions, including one that would reduce the liability of the city when things go awry after a development project.
Dhaliwal said currently, if a city inspector approves a development when it's being built, but it later comes out there were issues with the construction - more often than not the city has to pay the full bill.
"If the courts do award the plaintiff some money, and the developers aren't around or professionals aren't around, the city ends up taking 100 per cent (of the fall) - it's known as joint liability," he said. "We don't mind paying it and being responsible for it, if the city's made the mistake, but it should be proportioned."
Another Burnaby resolution concerned social housing, asking the municipal organization to work with the federal government to extend their previous commitments with rental subsidies, Dhaliwal said.
"The budget allocation is expiring in 2014 and we asked that it be extended," he added. "That was another one being endorsed."
Despite it being a busy week, Dhaliwal said he was delighted to rise in the ranks of the provincial organization, as he went from being second vice-president to being voted in as first vice president last week.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I enjoy it, I believe it's important for local governments like ourselves ... to have a participation at those levels and share our experiences with our counterparts across the country and B.C."
For more information on the 150 resolutions passed last week, visit http://ow.ly/pdxGn.
© Copyright 2013