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VANCOUVER - The provincial government has begun to off-load its financial woes onto municipalities and now its trying to download its ideology through its draft Community Charter legislation.

The draft bill, introduced in the legislature yesterday, aims to make municipalities work more effectively for business at the expense (quite literally) of local residents, says Barry ONeill, president of CUPE B.C.

We support changes to the Municipal Act that enable local governments to better meet the needs of their communities through improved public programs and services, said ONeill.

But were strongly opposed to the proposals in this draft legislation that treat municipal services as the newest business opportunity for public-private partnerships or outright privatization, he said.

The union sharply criticized provisions in the draft legislation that force cities and towns to bid against each other to attract business, allow municipalities to give tax exemptions to business and encourage public-private partnerships.

This isnt a Community Charter, its a Corporate Charter, ONeill said. Not only does the charter allow municipalities to provide tax exemptions to private companies, it transfers the financial risks associated with private industry to the public sector. The union president warned P3 deals, which rely heavily on public financing, would endanger municipalities AAA credit rating.

The draft legislation also makes it harder for citizens to force a referendum, by raising the required number of voters signatures to 10% from 5%. The government talks about its commitment to increasing citizen participation, but as this draft legislation shows, its just talk, he stated.

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Contact:
Barry ONeill 604-916-8444