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Mayors call on parties to commit $1B annually to cities

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:00 PDT, Thu October 15, 2020

The BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus (BCUMC) is calling on the next provincial government to unconditionally allocate at least $1 billion annually from a share of BC’s economic growth directly to local governments.

This is to enable the municipal councils to build much-needed infrastructure projects required for 21st century cities.

“Local governments have been asking for almost a decade for the province to provide stable, predictable and sustainable funding each year so that we can directly invest in our communities’ infrastructure needs,” said BCUMC co-chair and Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “Let me be clear, this is not a request for a new tax, rather this is about local governments getting a fair share of BC’s existing economic pie for vital municipal infrastructure investments that our communities badly need.”

Local governments currently receive eight cents of every tax dollar, yet are responsible for roughly 60 per cent of the infrastructure in the province. Most infrastructure funding is currently allocated on a grant basis where local governments apply for funding for priority projects.

The BC NDP has committed one per cent of BC’s gross domestic product annually to build community priority projects such as hospitals, childcare spaces and public transit. The BC Greens have committed to striking a committee to review relations between local governments and the provincial government. And the BC Liberals have committed to invest an additional $8 billion in infrastructure improvements over three years.
“Applying for grants on a case-by-case basis for infrastructure projects is like a roll of the dice–sometimes we get grants for high-priority community projects and sometimes we don’t,” said BCUMC co-chair and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “This prevents local governments from saving, investing and planning for the long term.”

“Our 13 cities alone have identified $5.9 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years that will greatly benefit our residents and businesses by creating jobs and growing the economy,” said Helps. 

The BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus is an informal, non-partisan group of mayors from 13 major BC cities, including Richmond. The group came together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and acts as a unified voice on critical issues facing their communities and the province.

The 2020 BCUMC Blueprint can be found here

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