As a new Director I’ve been learning about the fiscal stresses placed on the SCRD.
These pressures are evident not only in the annual Budgeting process, but also in staff reports, public delegations, and committee work. Issues such as Housing, Environmental Regulation, Transportation, Social Services, and Watershed Protection come under regulatory control of the Provincial or Federal Government. When underfunded at those levels they often end up costing our local governments in financial, staff time and other terms.
The early impressions of this new Director were reinforced by a fellow Director who has last sat on the SCRD Board a dozen years ago and noticed a significant upswing in provincial and federal downloading in the intervening years. As the level of government “closest to the ground” municipalities and regional districts see the effects of Provincial and Federal cutbacks first hand, and are often asked to help mitigate them. Furthermore, this pattern often impacts our most vulnerable community members, or the ecosystem services that keep us all alive.
At a recent local government conference in Vancouver, this theme was pervasive. The Columbia Institute has produced a report on the subject and it can be found here:
Recently, a constituent asked “If the Provincial Government can balance its budget, why are my SCRD taxes going up?” While there is a comparative relationship there, there is also a causal one. I’m going to send him a link to this report.