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TILMA, Class 1/6, day care to be discussed at UBCM

Whistler interested in variety of issues

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Several issues up for discussion at this year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference are of particular interest to the Resort Municipality of Whistler, according to Mayor Ken Melamed.

The Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) will be discussed by municipalities, which for the most part oppose this trade partnership between the government of B.C. and Alberta. Municipalities are concerned that they were not consulted when creating and signing the agreement, as well as the fact that businesses can use provisions in TILMA to sue the provincial and municipal governments if they feel any laws or actions impair their ability to do business or are inconsistent with other jurisdictions.

For example, a local law created to protect the environment or public health that is stronger than the provincial law is potential ground for a suit.

“I know several of our coucillors will be attending the working session on TILMA because the UBCM is our point organization on this,” said Melamed. “I know that the Labour Minister Colin Hansen is advocating it, but we’re committed to establishing a set of protocols related to TILMA in conjunction with the UBCM to protect the interests of local governments.”

Another area of interest to Whistler is the new provincial formula for taxing strata hotels, that closes the Class 1/Class 6 tax loophole for new strata hotel projects but does not address the inequity that already exists in places like Whistler. According to Melamed, several municipalities, including Whistler, would like to change the way strata hotels are governed.

“The decision has been taken, but we will be meeting with (regulatory reform) Minister Rick Thorpe to work towards a better customer service and community safety model through single front desk management of hotel properties,” said Melamed.

One of the biggest issues of the Class 1/Class 6 division, aside from tax rates, is the fact that many strata buildings are managed by several different property management companies and do not have front desk services within those buildings. It’s confusing for guests, and has resulted in numerous complaints over the years.

Other discussions at the UBCM that Whistler will be pursuing include unfreezing the provincial budget for B.C. Transit to allow transit service expansion, and addressing a decision to reduce day care subsidies by roughly $40 per child — something the province attributes to day care cuts at the federal level in favour of a new child tax credit of $100 per child, per month.

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