Elections Legislation, BC Ferries Assessment Appeal Highlight Bennett Meeting

The status of Elections Task Force recommendations and a Supreme Court appeal concerning the assessment of BC Ferries' Horseshoe Bay terminal were featured topics in a meeting between UBCM's Executive and Minister Bill Bennett.

Elections Legislation Update

Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development updated the Executive on legislation to implement the recommendations of the 2010 Elections Task Force. Minister Bennett told the Executive that the legislation would need to be passed by the fall of 2013 in order to be implemented for the 2014 local government general election. Minister Bennett noted that one of the particular challenges in preparing legislation is finding a campaign expense limit formula that effectively incorporates individual candidates, elector organizations and third party donations.

BC Ferries Assessment Appeal

President Mary Sjostrom asked Minister Bennett for information on the status of an appeal to the Supreme Court of BC concerning the assessment of BC Ferries' Horseshoe Bay properties. The Supreme Court will be ruling on whether a Property Assessment Appeal Board (PAAB) decision to assess two BC Ferries lots at $10 per parcel was correct. The PAAB decision may require the City of West Vancouver to pay back three years of property taxes totaling $650,000 to BC Ferries. Minister Bennett advised he would discuss the matter with BC Ferries and make a public statement on the issue. UBCM Executive expressed concern about the potential for a precedent with the PAAB decision and the impact on the tax base for local government.

Long-Term Infrastructure Plan

Minister Bennett referenced the ongoing meetings with UBCM regarding the Long-Term Infrastructure Plan and the interest of local government in broadening the project scope for future programs. Minister Bennett said that communities are facing significant costs to upgrade water, wastewater and road systems, and that there is enough for communities to do within the current scope of programs.

Jumbo Incorporation

The Minister noted that Cabinet had approved the incorporation of Jumbo as a Mountain Resort Municipality, and had appointed Greg Deck, former Mayor of Radium Hot Springs, as the mayor. The municipality will be a member of the regional district and is entitled to a director but that director will not be able to vote for a transitional period. Mayor Deck will have a seat on the Regional District of East Kootenay board as a non-voting member

Don Fast, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, and Julian Paine, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community Sport and Cultural Development, joined Minister Bennett at the Executive meeting November 30, 2012.

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