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VANCOUVER Minister of State for Community Charter Ted Nebbeling has confirmed that the provincial government and BC municipalities are not planning to seek full input from citizens on proposed changes to how municipalities operate.

Following a meeting in Vancouver today, Nebbeling said that it will be up to individual municipalities to decide whether they want to invite the local public to listen in on community charter discussions, in the coming months. Individuals or groups can submit written briefs only.

Nebbeling has said he will only consider further consultation after legislation is written.

The Liberals have promised democracy and accountability. However, holding meetings behind closed doors, and then telling people they can have a say after the law has been drafted is not a democratic process, said Canadian Union of Public Employees BC president Barry ONeill.

While we support government looking for new ways to deliver services, it is outrageous that there is not broader public consultation on what this means to local communities.

The Liberals promise that this charter will prevent off-loading of provincial funding responsibilities. But, at the same time, the provincial government is also promising major cutbacks. It seems clear that the funding burden for important community services such as libraries, museums, and policing will increasingly fall to municipalities, ONeill concluded.

Government ministers will make further presentations this week at the annual Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver. While the public purse pays for municipal representatives to attend the conference, taxpaying citizens must pay a $410 registration fee to find out what our elected officials are planning.

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Media, please contact Barry ONeill, President CUPE BC 604-916-8444.