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New financial tools for municipalities still a ways away


The Resort Municipality of Whistler, like other municipalities across B.C., has been looking forward to acquiring some new "financial tools" through the Liberal government’s community charter. But they likely won’t be granted during this session of the legislature.

West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA Ted Nebbeling, Minister of State for Community Charter, said Tuesday there will be a bill presented "that reflects our commitment to the community charter" during the new legislative session. But he stopped short of promising the "new tools."

"There will be tools for municipalities to consider, but we will also be continuing our consultations with the (Union of British Columbia Municipalities)," Nebbeling said.

Tuesday’s throne speech appeared to back away from the Liberals’ promise to implement the community charter during their first 90 days in office. However, the throne speech indicated the government will appoint a council to prepare a draft of the charter by the new year.

In the last decade successive provincial governments have downloaded costs on to municipalities, while cutting many grants and transfer payments. Under the Municipal Act and the Local Government Act, municipalities’ only means of revenue have been property taxes, fines and service charges.

Whistler, which must provide infrastructure for a tourist population as well as a resident population, has been seeking new and innovative financial tools that would reduce dependence on property taxes and fees.

Among the things Whistler has eyed is getting some or all of the real estate transfer tax. Whistler has also studied how many American resorts have their own resort tax, which sees tourists contributing to municipal revenues.

Nebbeling has said that the community charter will be flexible, allowing local governments greater control of their own destiny and reducing towns’ dependence on Victoria.

The new session of the legislature opened Tuesday and is expected to go well into September and possibly October.

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