Minister Bennett Provides Update on Elections Legislation

The UBCM Executive met with Minister Bill Bennett on January 23rd to discuss the status of local government elections legislation, the BC Ferries' Horseshoe Bay terminal and receive the provincial responses to the resolutions endorsed by the 2012 UBCM Convention.

Local Government Elections Legislation

Minister Bennett updated the Executive on legislation to implement the recommendations of the 2010 Local Government Elections Task Force. He indicated that legislation would be ready to go for a fall 2013, or later legislative session, noting the complexity of developing a campaign expense limit formula.

2014 Local Government Election Date

President Sjostrom enquired if the UBCM endorsed resolution request to change the election date from the third week in November to the third week in October was also part of the proposed legislative amendments. Minister Bennett confirmed that the date change was one of the elements of the legislative package.

Due to the uncertainty as to when the legislation would be introduced, Executive members noted that there would be a need for extensive education and communications about the changes for candidates and other interested parties to ensure that the new rules were clearly understood before the 2014 election. As well, with a date change to October from November in 2014, the Executive noted the challenges in holding the UBCM Convention in late September.

The Executive have since written to the Minister requesting that, while supportive of the move to October for local government elections, we are requesting that the election date change be effective for 2017, not 2014, due to the tight legislative timeline and conflict with the 2014 UBCM Convention.

Update on BC Ferries Assessment Appeal

The Minister updated the Executive on the Property Assessment Board decision that resulted in two BC Ferries lots at the Horseshoe Bay terminal being assessed at $10 per parcel. He noted that the decision by the Board is being appealed by BC Assessment, and West Vancouver has joined the appeal. In the interim, he noted that BC Assessment and BC Ferries are sitting down to try and develop a negotiated settlement. He advised that both parties acknowledge that BC Ferries will be paying property taxes but not at the same level as previously set.

Provincial Responses to 2012 UBCM Resolutions

Minister Bennett provided President Sjostrom with the provincial responses to the 2012 UBCM resolutions. He advised that the comments provided reflect the Province's position and comments on the requests outlined by the members. The President thanked the Minister and indicated UBCM's appreciation for the role played by his Ministry in coordinating the responses with the other ministries.

As a next step, UBCM will send correspondence to the proponents of each resolution endorsed and conveyed to the Province of BC with the provincial response. In the coming days, UBCM will analyze the responses to assess opportunities for further action. The full list of provincial responses is available for download on our website.

Also in attendance at the meeting were Don Fast, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and RJ Senko, Ministerial Assistant.

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