By Peter Fassbender
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
British Columbia is proud to proclaim May 15-21, 2016, as Local Government Awareness Week.
The Province works with B.C.’s 189 local governments (162 municipalities and 27 regional districts), in addition to the Islands Trust and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, to build strong, successful communities.
In British Columbia, local governments deliver local democracy. They represent the level of government closest to its citizens and communities.
Local governments also play a key role in providing communities, citizens and businesses with essential services they need to prosper and thrive. Safe drinking water, wastewater management, streets, sidewalks, libraries, land-use planning, fire and police protection, recreation and parks are just some of the important benefits that B.C.’s local governments help support.
Every year, the Government of British Columbia approves grants that help local governments provide public services. In 2016, the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development increased funding for local government grant programs to more than $165 million – a $30-million increase over last year. The increases apply to the Small Community Grants Program and the Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Program.
In addition to grants, partnerships are an important part of the on going collaboration between the provincial and local governments in British Columbia. The B.C. government works closely with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities as well as organizations that provide key services for local governments.
These partnerships produce great benefits for B.C. communities through programs such as the federal Gas Tax Fund that will invest $2.76 billion in British Columbia’s local governments over the next decade to support local infrastructure.
I know that the business of local government today is very complex – and that service as an elected official in local government is a demanding calling.
I feel it is a calling, because the people I meet in local office throughout British Columbia are deeply committed to the success of their communities.
They want their local economies to prosper. They want their children to inherit a world that is sustainable environmentally. And they want their local democracy to succeed, too.
Congratulations to all our local governments, locally elected officials and professional staff for their outstanding commitment to public service and community success.