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Return more tax revenue to municipalities: Vancouver mayor

Return carbon tax funds to local government for adaptation, says UBCM president.
The UBCM's 118th convention is being held Sept. 14 to 17. Once again, the event is virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic.

B.C. municipalities should get a greater share of taxes taken by Victoria in order to deal with the increasing responsibilities cities and towns are having to shoulder, Vancouver mayor’s said Sept. 14.

Kennedy Stewart told Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) delegates the provincial government should be giving communities revenue from both the speculation and vacancy tax and the property transfer tax.

The UBCM’s 118th annual convention is being held virtually for the second year due to the pandemic.

Stewart called it a “reminder of the grim reality” of pandemic life and said local governments have been on the front lines of keeping British Columbians safe while communities have kept functioning as much as possible.

But, he said, it comes at a price. And it’s not just larger cities.

“We want Victoria to deliver more options for revenue,” he said. “All communities need access to new revenue sources.”

The mayor said revenue is needed to deal with issues from social housing to the opioid crisis.

In the latter situation, he said first responders are burning out. He said that could be alleviated if action is taken on safe drug supply and an increase in addiction treatment resources. 

UBCM president Brian Frenkel, a Vanderhoof municipal councillor, agreed municipalities need more resources, particularly to assist British Columbians in crisis.

He said local governments should also receive portions of the carbon tax to assist municipalities in dealing with climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Frenkel said the convention’s purpose is to set policy for the upcoming year for the umbrella group representing the province’s municipal level of government, including regional districts. Much of its work goes to lobbying Victoria and Ottawa on issues affecting municipalities.

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