The Union of B.C. Municipalities’ (UBCM) Resolutions Committee has endorsed two Burns Lake resolutions.
One of these resolutions, regarding “underfunding of public libraries,” urges the provincial government to form a task force to work with public library associations to ensure funding sustainability.
In 2009, the B.C. Liberal government cut public library funding by more than 20 percent. Since then, funding has remained stagnant at $14 million annually.
The resolution asks that the province to restore funding levels to pre-2009 rates, adding that public libraries provide crucial services to all members of their communities, including those most marginalized.
The UBCM Resolutions Committee noted that they have already endorsed resolutions requesting the province to restore funding for B.C. libraries in the past. However, these resolutions had not specifically asked for the creation of a task force.
In response to a 2017 UBCM resolution asking the province to increase library funding, the province said it is currently engaged with the library community to deliver a strategic plan called ‘Inspiring libraries, connecting communities,’ released in 2016. In year one of this three-year plan, the province focused on building the capacity of libraries to deliver enhanced services and programs.
The province added that the public library funding framework is “being examined” within the context of this strategic plan.
The other Burns Lake resolution endorsed by UBCM is with regard to wildfire mitigation costs and responsibility.
The resolution urges the provincial and federal governments to discontinue downloading wildfire mitigation costs and responsibilities onto local governments and First Nations through its Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative (SWPI) program, which was introduced in 2004.
Burns Lake council says the SWPI program has resulted in the cost, responsibility and expertise of wildfire mitigation on areas inside and around local government boundaries being shifted onto local governments. Council says this shift has created significant additional pressure on local government finances and staff resources.
These two UBCM resolutions will now be transmitted to the provincial government.
“In some instances, these [resolutions] will directly impact discussions that are already underway with government. Others will be reviewed by the province on their own,” explained Paul Taylor, a UBCM spokesperson. “We usually receive the provincial responses by the spring.”
A late resolution submitted by Burns Lake council with regard to attracting and retaining medial specialists in northern B.C. was not admitted for debate. However, this resolution will be forwarded to the North Central Local Government Association for spring 2019 consideration.