Road safety and a tax referendum

Before I begin this weeks report I would like to remind the motoring public to please make every effort to be aware of emergency vehicles and please safely pull over in the event you see a first responder with the siren flashing and horn activated.

Before I begin this weeks report I would like to remind the motoring public to please make every effort to be aware of emergency vehicles and please safely pull over in the event you see a first responder with the siren flashing and horn activated.

Your prompt attention can also help to advise other motorists that an emergency vehicle is in the area.

Elections B.C. revealed last week that more than 1.6 million British Columbians took the time to submit a ballot and participate in the recent HST referendum.  The 1.6 million ballots are a significant participation rate equal to the total amount of votes cast in person during the previous 2009 election.

While some have speculated the size of the turnout is indicative of either support for or against the HST it is also fair to ask if the size of the turnout in part could be as a result of a preference for using a mail in ballot process as opposed to our current vote in person format.   There is no question that using mail in ballots is more cost effective to taxpayer’s with savings in the tens of millions.

While all voting processes have challenges, I would be interested in hearing your views regarding the mail in ballot process.

In the coming weeks Elections B.C. will have two temporary shifts counting ballots seven days a week until roughly late August when the count is expected to reach a conclusion.

One other topic that has been the subject of recent discussion is the potential for creating an independent municipal government auditor to examine the spending and taxing habits of local governments.

Both provincial and federally, the role of an Auditor General is an important one that many Canadian taxpayers have come to rely on.   Individuals such as former Canadian Auditor General Sheila Fraser have literally become a household name.

This subject has already begun to create some debate in local government circles and with those who follow municipal affairs closely.

It is expected that this will be a topic of discussion at this years Union of British Columbia Municipalities Convention and I also would encourage citizens to share your views on this important subject.

Lastly this week I will share some good news as British Columbia’s exports for the first half of 2011 are up by nearly 14 per cent over this time last year.

Solid growth is being recorded in exports of forestry products, industrial goods and energy products, along with gains in agricultural and fishing products.

British Columbia’s domestic-exports to Asia over the first half of 2011 are worth $6.9 billion, surpassing the value of goods shipped to the United States.

Increases in exports have also been recorded to the European Union, up by 27 per cent and to South America, up by 44 per cent.

There is still much work to be done, however B.C. continues to move in a positive direction.

Bill Barisoff is the MLA for Penticton.


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