The mayors of the province wrapped up a three day meeting in Penticton last week, coming out of the discussions as a more unified body and a potential force for change.
The mayor’s discussions centred around such things as grant funding, downloading and delivery of services and the necessity of working collectively to make the changes they see as necessary .
One item of interest to the mayors was that of grant funding.
“Right now, we’re caught in a ‘grant game’ with the provincial and federal governments,” said Mayor Dean Fortin of Victoria. The caucus, in outlining a number of specific areas that need to be addressed, included “eliminating the ad hoc granting process in favour of one that is sustainable.”
It’s a point that municipalities like Keremeos might be interested in pursuing. Small municipalities with limited tax bases need to have more control over where grant money is spent. As Keremeos looks forward to a number of expensive infrastructure upgrades and improvements, the village is forced to compete for grant money that some could easily argue is earmarked for frivolous projects – like the Spirit Square initiative of a few years ago, or the more recent grant application for adult playground equipment.
Small, limited taxation municipalities like Keremeos need to have more control over where their grant money goes – so they can put it towards practical projects that advance the community and benefit the majority, rather than towards frivolous, window dressing intiatives that benefit few.
By organizing themselves into a collective voice, the mayors may find themselves with the lobbying strength they need to get the attention of the provincial and federal governments.