Over my first term on City Council I learned how much cost pressure is added to the City budget because of senior levels of government downloading costs and adding increased regulations. Some examples that come to mind include the downloading of policing DNA analysis costs, costs pertaining to the maintenance of dikes and now more recently the provincial employer health tax being implemented January 1, 2019. There has also been a downloading of senior government responsibilities related to housing. . . . . . .
Add to this such things as a changes in the national lifeguarding standards and the requirement to hire more lifeguards, new storm water management requirements, new streamside riparian area protection regulations, climate change risk management, GHG Emission reduction issues and more, much more. These are but a few examples of costs that get added to city budgets. These are all important safety requirements, environmental initiatives and the like but property tax-payers can only bear so much. Especially right now. The extra financial burden being placed on local taxpayers, especially those on fixed incomes, simply isn’t feasible.
Another learning throughout my term on Council: City Councillors certainly don’t have the “power” to assist residents with all their concerns! The Local Government Act and other legislation is quite prescriptive and I discovered many times that although I WANTED to solve an issue for a resident, I couldn’t. Some examples of this include: having an empty, boarded up, derelict house demolished or limiting the time between sale and re-building; being able to address concerns resulting with “unneighbourly” tenants in a house owned by out-of-country landlords, quantitative measures to address disturbing noise pertaining to mechanical equipment in surrounding yards – and more.
I am doing my best to advocate to gain more tools to deal with some of these challenges that residents face. I would like to see changes to how BC Assessment classifies and assesses properties for taxation. I would also like to see turf fields made eligible for funding by development cost charges (DCCs). Both these issues are legislated provincially but affect local governments and residents/businesses in our municipalities.