This week, local government politicians along with regional district directors and other municipal leaders will gather in Vancouver for the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities Convention.
One of the more controversial topics expected to be discussed at this year’s UBCM is the creation of a Municipal Auditor General who will oversee local government spending and taxation.
The roll of an auditor general is well defined within both the provincial and federal governments, however it is a new one for local government and one that is strongly opposed by some and welcomed by others.
I will provide more information on this matter as it becomes available.
Recently, the government announced a strategy to help promote job creation and economic growth for the British Columbia economy.
One aspect of the B.C. jobs plan is to increase focus on markets in Asia.
Since 2003, lumber exports to Asia have increased dramatically to the extent that close to 25 B.C. lumber mills currently in operation benefit from increased lumber exports to China.
This equates to roughly 10,000 related jobs across our province.
Another important aspect of the job creation plan includes increased resources to help expedite mining permits and approvals.
My recent visit to the Copper Mountain Mine in Princeton illustrated firsthand the value of a mine to a small community such as Princeton.
The B.C. mining industry is an important one for providing well paying jobs and supporting our local and regional economies.
If you would like further information on the B.C. jobs plan please visit www.BCJobsPlan.ca.
The topic of jobs is an essential one, however it is important to understand that ultimately it is the private sector through the business community who are the employers that provide the jobs that drive the B.C. economy.
Government has a roll to create an efficient regulatory environment with competitive taxation rates to help promote investment and job creation.
Here in British Columbia we have reduced regulatory requirements from roughly 360,000 in 2001 to just over 200,000 today. As an example where there was once 19 different types of classes for liquor licensing, today there are only two.
Where permit and license information could take upwards of one day or more, the same information today with BizPal can be accomplished in under an hour, often less than 30 minutes.
Much of these advancements came through consultation with the small business community and the small business roundtables that occurred throughout British Columbia.
Although progress has been made, there is still more work that can be done.
Government officials at all levels need to be aware of regulatory challenges and other barriers that stand in the way of investment and business activities that help create jobs.
We must also recognize that other jurisdictions are also facing the same challenges and offering up incentives and programs that we must compete against.
We must not lose sight of the importance of supporting small business and recognizing the value of a job and keeping our citizens gainfully employed.
At all levels of government we must continue to work in partnership to help promote job creation for a strong economy.
Bill Barisoff is the MLA for Penticton.