EDITORIAL: No love at UBCM

Province rejects ferry resolution and ignored emergency motion on infrastructure partnerships

Mayors and councillors didn’t get much in the way of joy or love from the provincial government last week during the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual conference.

A resolution was passed unanimously by UBCM delegates asking the government to rescind recent BC Ferries fare hikes and service cuts.

Minutes after the resolution passed, Transportation Minister Todd Stone, a Kamloops MLA it should be noted, kiboshed the idea.

“That’s not going to happen,” he told our reporter.

We thought the resolution didn’t go far enough. The UBCM was asking for a rollback in fares to 2013 rates. They were too high then, as well.

The motion put forward by UBCM delegates came on the heels of a report suggesting B.C. has missed out on more than $2 billion in economic activity over the past decade because of rising fares.

Stone labelled the report “irresponsible” and “unsubstantiated.”

When he wasn’t keeping the socialist hordes away from the gates of British Columbia, Premier W.A.C. Bennett essentially created BC Ferries in the late 1950s. A strike by employees of the private Black Ball Line was the impetus for Bennett’s plan to create a government-owned ferry service.

Bennett saw it as an extension of the highway system. Say that now and watch both federal and provincial politicians run for the hills.

Back to the UBCM last week where delegates passed an emergency motion related to the sharing of tax revenue by the province. This is mostly about infrastructure upgrades and the increasing difficulty municipalities (think Parksville and its water treatment plant) have funding projects.

The emergency motion was thought to be required because Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard says the provincial government has ignored, for 12 months, a report detailing a partnership proposal between the province and municipalities.

No word, no love, from the province on this one, either. Premier Christy Clark didn’t bring any either when she addressed the UBCM on Friday.

Makes one wonder just how serious the provincial government takes the UBCM.

— Editorial by John Harding

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