EDITORIAL: Municipalities get no love

Ideas percolate at the municipal level, but often get turned down provincially

Mayors and councillors from the West Shore or elsewhere didn’t get much in the way of joy or love from the provincial government last week during the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual conference.

A resolution was passed unanimously by UBCM delegates asking the government to rescind recent B.C. Ferries fare hikes and service cuts, revenue decisions that affect most West Shore residents at one point or another.

Minutes after the resolution passed, B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone kiboshed the idea. “That’s not going to happen,” he told a reporter.

The UBCM was asking for a rollback in fares to 2013 rates. They were too high then, as well.

The motion put forward by UBCM delegates came on the heels of a report suggesting B.C. has missed out on more than $2 billion in economic activity over the past decade because of rising fares.

Stone labelled the report “irresponsible” and argued that was “unsubstantiated.”

When he wasn’t keeping the socialist hordes away from the gates of British Columbia, Premier W.A.C. Bennett essentially created B.C. Ferries in the late 1950s.

A strike by employees of the private Black Ball Line was the impetus for Bennett’s plan to create a government-owned ferry service. Bennett saw it as an extension of the highway system. Say that now and watch both federal and provincial politicians run for the hills.

Back at the UBCM last week, delegates passed an emergency motion related to the sharing of tax revenue by the province. This is mostly about infrastructure upgrades – more a problem for older jursidictions such as Victoria and Oak Bay, less so for newer cities such as Langford and Colwood – and the increasing difficulty municipalities have funding projects.

The emergency motion was thought to be required because the provincial government has ignored, for 12 months, a report detailing a partnership proposal between the province and municipalities.

No word, no love, from the province on this one, either.

Premier Christy Clark didn’t bring any either when she addressed the UBCM on Friday. Makes one wonder just how serious the provincial government takes the UBCM.