Time to extend city boundaries?

Our premier didn’t make it on Canada Business’ 2014 list of the country’s 50 most powerful business people.

Our premier didn’t make it on Canada Business’ 2014 list of the country’s 50 most powerful business people, but Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William did.

He got the  No. 44 spot, joining businessmen Galen Weston,  No. 7, and Jimmy Pattison, No. 15; politicians and premiers Kathleen Wynne, No. 13, Jim Prentice,  No. 15, and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, No. 32. The magazine noted the lawsuit Chief William “first pressed in 1983 to stop logging in the band’s traditional territories in B.C. turned out to be the one that established aboriginal title on specific non-treaty lands for the first time.”

The  Supreme Court of Canada’s final say on the case came last June.

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We have three former mayors seeking seats at the city council table. Is  that  recycling? Or reusing?

Speaking of local elections, there is one beef that comes up every time from citizens who work in Williams lake or operate a businesses here, but they can’t vote because they live outside city boundaries and don’t personally own property in the city. (Corporations can’t vote.) The odd thing about this rule is that any one of those citizens can be elected to city council and make decisions city residents have to live with but they don’t (eg. setting taxes and bylaws).

This works both ways. City citizens can be elected to the CRD. (I’m using the word citizens because no matter how long you’ve lived here and paid taxes, you can’t vote if you aren’t a Canadian citizen.) Corporations used to vote but that was changed in the 1970s. Subsequent governments have fiddled with other rules (eg. the new four-year terms) but none have touched voting eligibility.

Maybe it’s time for another try at extending city boundaries. We’ve had two referenda on the subject in the last 40 years, both rejected by the out-of-city voters. Current council and CRD candidates might consider looking at a District Municipality, or something like that.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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