Pushing boundaries

The BC Chamber of Commerce thinks the province should have a role to play when it comes to amalgamation for certain districts.

The provincial chamber is concerned about the UBCM’s resolution to oppose any provincial government involvement in cases of local government amalgamation.

Municipalities from throughout the province are meeting throughout the week for the annual UBCM conference.

“Municipal governments are autonomous bodies and should be respected as such. However, we do believe that there is a role for the province to play in deciding whether amalgamation makes sense for certain jurisdictions,” said Val Litwin, BC Chamber President and CEO.

There are several examples of municipalities in B.C. that share common boundaries, creating a situation where a specific geographical area is serviced by both a municipality and regional district.

“In cases like the City of Vernon, the District Municipality of Coldstream and the bordering unincorporated areas, you run into situations where people are uncertain about which governing body is providing the services they need,” said Litwin.

“The issue becomes more troublesome when you consider how services are funded because this situation allows for people living outside the boundaries of a municipality to still benefit from all the services, infrastructure and programs that are being paid for by those living within the municipal jurisdiction.”

The BC Chamber strongly supports the notion that the minister responsible for a local government should have the authority, in specific situations, to initiate a regional governance review where they believe it to be in the best interest of the region, and have the ability to act on the recommended outcome of the review.

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