Castlegar mayor supports new ministry for municipal governments

Mayor Lawrence Chernoff considers BC Mayors' Caucus meetings time well spent

Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff

Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff

Castlegar mayor Lawrence Chernoff said the biggest takeaway for him from his attendance at the BC Mayors’ Caucus in Prince George at the end of April, was that all communities get a chance to share best practices and discuss common challenges.

Chernoff said he also¬†endorses the idea of creating a ministry dedicated to local governments so the concerns of smaller communities are not “sliding off the side of a desk of someone’s current job.”

“We get to carry a unified message to the province that we, as mayors, want to work together and work with the government to solve some of the problems that we have with funding, small community grants and those type of things,” Chernoff said by telephone on Tuesday, May 7.

Chernoff laughed when he mentioned the province considered rural communities are any under a population of 100,000.

“If you look at the blanks, it doesn’t leave very many communities in B.C. that are above that mark,” he said. “When we talk about funding, we want something in place that we can plan our futures with, not ad-hoc grants and stuff like that. That’s the biggest message we wanted to carry was that we need some assurance that what happens for five years, is in place for five years, so we can do some infrastructure or whatever other planning we need for our communities.”

He said it’s nice to sit down with mayors from across the province to talk about common issues, adding he thinks government perks up and listens when the organization speaks for all of the mayors.

The BC Mayors’ Caucus endorsed five statements after examining issues common to B.C.’s municipalities:

1) The BC Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC) supports the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) efforts to secure a long-term, predictable funding source to local government for infrastructure projects.

2) The BCMC requests that the Province extend the Small Communities Grant Program.

3) The BCMC requests a review of legislation that imposes wage settlements by binding arbitration on local government.

4) The BCMC requests that the Province establish a Ministry dedicated to local government.

5) The BCMC requests that the premier attend the Mayors’ Round Table on local government.

The mayors also discussed the recently appointed Municipal Auditor General, Basia Ruta, an assistant deputy minister at Environment Canada now on a two-year professional leave, who will start in January. Ms. Ruta is a chartered accountant.

Adrian Dix, leader of the BC NDP, also attended the meeting, as did UBCM president Mary Sjostrom.