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Municipalities seek more funding options

Financial tools, resort development major issues at UBCM



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Lamont says the best practices developed by Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners and presented at the UBCM do have a lot of merit for towns looking to create or develop a tourist economy, but don’t yet address the financial needs of the communities. Without financial tools, communities are going to have a hard time delivering on their promises.

"Look at Sun Peaks’ model, with all the new resort development in that area, and a similar thing is happening in Big White. They want new taxes. Look at Fernie Alpine Resort’s situation, as they’re trying to grow. Look at Invermere, and the impact (the proposed) Jumbo (resort) is having. Look at Tofino, where they have a whole bunch of land yet to be developed and they don’t want one-offs, they want to have a more comprehensive approach, but they don’t have the resources," said Lamont.

"We’re all struggling. We want to go where the province is going, but we want to see some understanding of what the impacts are and some understanding of how we can pay for those impacts.

"Like Whistler, these (towns) are incredibly informed, they know the issues, they know what they need to do, they just don’t have the financial resources to do it."

One "new" source of funds that will be available to municipalities under the federal government’s New Deal plan is that local governments will soon be able to get a 100 per cent GST refund instead of just 50 per cent.

Other resolutions tabled at the UBCM advocate for a share of the property transfer taxes to pay for affordable housing initiatives, a share of fuel taxes to pay for infrastructure and transit, and a share of liquor taxes to pay for health programs and health services.

All told the UBMC addressed 194 resolutions in a three day period.

The group is even planning a name change this year to reflect the language in the Community Charter, which replaced the Municipal Act on Jan. 1. The recommendation was accepted to change the name to the Union of B.C. Local Governments.

The recommendations that were passed by a majority of the member municipalities at the UBCM will be presented to the provincial government for review.

Some of the resolutions passed in 2004 would affect Whistler directly, if the provincial or federal government adopts them, including: