Thursday, September 28, 2017

Langley City council advocating to Provincial Ministers on behalf of community at UBCM

The Union of BC Municipalities Annual Conference is occurring this week at the Vancouver Convention Centre. At the conference, people involved with local government learn about issues that are impacting communities throughout our province, including potential solutions. They also debate and pass resolutions which get forwarded to the provincial government to consider. One of the other key things that occurs at the UBCM conference is meetings with provincial cabinet ministers.

Each local government submits a request for the ministers they’d like to meet with, and wait to hear back on who accepted the meeting requests. For many local governments (especially outside of the South Coast), this is the only opportunity they get to meet in person with several provincial cabinet minsters.

Langley City was able to secure meetings with four ministers. Members of our council, including myself, have been meeting with these minsters throughout the conference.

Building more affordable housing with a focus on affordable housing for seniors and supportive housing for people who are currently living on the street, is a major concern in our community. We met with the Honourable Shane Simpson who is the Minister of Social Development & Poverty Reduction to outline how we think the provincial government could help in Langley City. We talked about funding affordable and supportive housing, and increasing the rent supplement for low-income individuals and households.

We also met with the Honourable Rob Fleming who is the Minister of Education. As I posted about a few years ago, Langley City has serious concerns about the School Site Acquisition Charge. This is currently charged on new development projects in Langley City even though there will be no new school sites acquired for students in our community for the foreseeable future. We talked about the need to reevaluate the charge to allow more flexibility for established communities.

Later today, we will be meeting with the Honourable Adrian Dix who is the Minister of Health. The number of medical calls that our fire department responds to has been rapidly increasing year-over-year. This is due to decreased response time of the ambulance service. This places a strain on our first responders and the City’s budget. Langley City has been calling for the provincial government to develop a fair cost recovery model to help local governments pay for this downloading of first-response services.

We will also be meeting with the Honourable Carole James who is the Minister of Finance. We will be advocating for the provincial government to create two residential tax rates. As I’ve posted about previously, the current single rate doesn’t allow local governments to set tax rates that reflect the actual cost of service delivery for the various forms of housing.

With a new provincial government, I am eager to see how they will engage in supporting our community.

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