Thursday, February 27, 2020

February 24 Council Meeting: $123k in community grants awarded, Know Your Neighbour campaign, and resolutions

I posted about budget items on Tuesday, and yesterday I posted about actions that Langley City council took based on correspondence received, both from Monday night’s public meeting. Today will be my last post about that council meeting.

As per policy, Langley City council allocates a portion of the money it receives from the Cascades Casino for community grants annually. This year $168,000 was set aside for grants. Council approved 41 grants totalling $123,364.55 for organizations that help benefit our community. Because there is still funding available, there will be another intake for organizations to apply for grants this year. For more information about which organizations received a grant, please download the full report from the City’s website.

In 2018, design work started for the renewal of the Fraser Highway One-Way section in downtown Langley. Extensive feedback was received from people and businesses about the future of this section of street, and two potential concepts were approved by council in January 2019.

Langley City is applying to the federal government for funding to complete phase one (green) as shown in the map. Select map to enlarge.

This is a significant project requiring an investment of $9.9 million. Langley City staff received approval from council to apply to the federal government’s “Invest in Canada Infrastructure Program.” Because this is a competitive grant program, there is no guarantee that the City will receive the grant. If the City is successful, the federal government would cover $7.3 million of the Fraser Highway One-Way renewal costs.

Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group is gearing up for its third annual Know Your Neighbour Campaign. You will see task group members at various City events this year looking for volunteers to help out. As a way to show appreciation for people who volunteer, council approved a draw to award one volunteer a three-month Timms recreation pass.

Another action item from the Crime Prevention Task Group is to educated people about homelessness, prolific offenders, and crime. While most people will link people who experiencing homeless to an increase in property crime, this is not always the case. To help, the task group received City council’s approval to form a “partnership with Stepping Stone Community Services and the RCMP to work on a video story featuring people who are experiencing homelessness and include an education piece from the RCMP about prolific offenders.”

One of the ways that municipalities throughout BC can share their views about matters to the provincial government, and the public, is through resolutions which are debated at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) conference annually.

As a first step, these resolutions must be endorsed by regional government associations. Langley City council proposed the following two motions for debate at the upcoming Lower Mainland Local Government Association conference.

WHEREAS the Province of British Columbia through the BC Assessment Act — Prescribed Classes of Property Regulation B.C. Reg. 438/81 specifies that there is one assessment class for all types of residential properties and the Community Charter outlines that a municipal bylaw to establish the property value taxes each year under section 197 (3) specifies there is a single rate for each property class;

AND WHEREAS the assessed value of the multi-family strata units and single family housing appreciates at vastly different rates, leading to large fluctuations and tax rate swings year-to-year between these housing types;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Province of British Columbia amend the BC Assessment Act and the Community Charter to allow the residential class to be split into two distinct residential classes so that a different rate may be applied to each type of residential property to allow for better tax planning, and a more consistent application of property tax changes for all residents no matter their housing type.

WHEREAS following the legalization of non-medicinal cannabis in July 2018, the Province has implemented legislation that enables local governments to regulate cannabis retail activities within their jurisdictions;

AND WHEREAS the Province has finalized a cannabis excise tax coordination agreement with the Federal Government, which includes a share of the 75% of the cannabis excise tax revenues being allocated to provinces and territories;

AND WHEREAS the Province acknowledges the strong local government interest in cannabis excise tax revenue sharing and the Province has noted it is committed to working with local governments to understand the potential costs they may experience as a result of cannabis legalization;

AND WHEREAS cannabis retail stores have been legally operating in BC local government jurisdictions since 2018 and excise tax revenues have been collected by senior governments since 2018;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Province commit to negotiating with local governments, through UBCM, to advance the development and implementation of a Provincial — local government cannabis excise tax revenue sharing agreement.

These resolutions have been forwarded to UBCM in the past, but no action has been taken by the province to date. Council decided on Monday that it was worth submitting these resolutions annually until these matters are positively addressed by the province.

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