B.C. mayors will meet for first caucus

The inaugural BC Mayors’ Caucus is scheduled for May 16-18 in Penticton.

The inaugural BC Mayors’ Caucus is scheduled for May 16-18 in Penticton. A total of 86 mayors, including Abbotsford’s Bruce Banman, will meet to share ideas and information on issues impacting communities across the province.

The goals of the caucus include information sharing on common issues facing municipalities, forging policy agreements to bring forward to the federal and provincial governments, exploring means of mutual support in the delivery of municipal services, seeking economic benefits through shared resources and pursuing joint economic development.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is on the steering committee that put the caucus together. She said B.C. municipalities need a new deal with both the federal and provincial governments to provide services.

“The current model is broken and as mayors we need to meet to discuss a collaborative approach to reversing the unsustainable trend that most municipalities are facing. Municipalities provide the vast majority of the service in areas such as infrastructure while being given only eight cents out of every tax dollar to do it.  We know that taxpayers are at their limit, so it’s time to discuss new partnerships with the other orders of government.”

Banman said city managers meet on a regular basis to discuss issues impacting their communities. He called the mayors’ caucus an “idea whose time has come.”

He hopes to discuss infrastructure and local policing and who should be paying for that.

He also believes municipalities should share resources, especially information.

“We can learn from each other’s mistakes, from each other’s wins.”

Municipalities have to stop thinking of themselves as “little kingdoms,” said Banman.

“It’s good when you can speak as a unified voice to other levels of government.”

His goal is to get the best deal possible for taxpayers.