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Local government ministry favoured
B.C.’s mayors are asking whoever forms the next government to create a ministry dedicated to local governments.
Spallumcheen’s Janice Brown was updating her council on the request which came at the B.C. mayors’ caucus gathering in Prince George.
“We have made a motion requesting the province establish a ministry dedicated to local governments,” said Brown. “We have an $8 billion budget with all of the local municipalities, but the government doesn’t have anybody dedicated to municipal governments.
“They have someone that’s for communities, someone for aboriginal and someone for health, but there is nobody that we can have a round table with.”
Brown said the need for a dedicated ministry came about as a result of all B.C. municipalities dealing with provincial rules that affect economics.
She cited, as an example, a community like Enderby which has lost its hospital and is down to one doctor.
“It’s easy to say we’re going to close a hospital when there’s one in Vernon, but when you close a hospital in Enderby, they lose the staff that work there, lose the economic impact of all those union employees and drug stores lose the prescriptions,” said Brown.
“We don’t have people coming to visit us and eating in town, we don’t have anything.”
Close to 80 provincial mayors were in attendance in Prince George, and another thing they’d like to see is an extension of the small community grants, which helps places like Spallumcheen with their budgeting.
“Even the larger communities realize how important the grant is for small communities,” said Brown.
NDP leader Adrian Dix was in attendance while Liberal leader Christy Clark did not attend but sent her support to the mayors.
“Overall, it was a very, very good conference,” said Brown. “A lot of issues in the province are the same for all municipalities. We had questions for both leaders and we expect those questions to be answered.”