The Campbell government has been offloading its financial woes onto municipalities, but now its trying to download its ideology through draft Community Charter legislation.
The draft bill, introduced in the legislature May 28, aims to make municipalities work better for business at the expense (quite literally) of local residents, says CUPE BC president Barry ONeill.
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, says 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 says.
The union sharply criticized provisions in the draft legislation that force cities and towns to bid against each other to attract business and encourage public-private partnerships.
This isnt a Community Charter, its a Corporate Charter, ONeill says.
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. He warns 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 per cent from 5 per cent.
The government talks about its commitment to increasing citizen participation, but as this draft legislation shows, its just talk, ONeill says.
The draft legislation will be finalized in the fall, according to the government.