UBCM negotiates TILMA they can live with 

Land use planning exempt, procurement threshold raised

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“Getting our way 100 per cent of the time would be fantastic, but realistically we know that’s not likely to happen. It was a negotiation, and in light of that we are satisfied we were able to address most of the issues and concerns outlined by local governments.”

One of the main successes was to exempt land use regulation by municipalities and municipal organizations, as long as the regulations are applied equally to B.C. or Alberta businesses or investors.

The UBCM was also able to raise the procurement limits in TILMA for municipal governments to $75,000 for goods, $75,000 for services, and $200,000 for construction, from previous thresholds of $10,000, $75,000 and $100,000. The TILMA regulation would force municipalities to accept bids from all B.C. and Alberta companies when the cost is equal to or over the new thresholds. That provision prevents local governments from favouring local businesses in procurements above the thresholds, or from favouring one supplier over another based on a past relationship.

Some areas where the UBCM was not successful include the establishment of a dispute resolution process, which Gimse says could be fixed by the time TILMA is applied in 2009. The province also denied a request by the UBCM that would allow municipalities to provide assistance or subsidies to businesses, except under one-off circumstances — such as offering lower tax rates to businesses or waiving fees as an incentive for locating in their jurisdiction.

Gimse says they will be presenting their negotiated agreement at the UBCM annual meeting in September.

“If there’s any follow-up or issues that come out of this, we’ll hear it then and act accordingly,” she said. “One of the things we know is important and we’ll continue to work on is conflict resolution… and how we are going to interact with the provincial government if disputes arise.”

Currently, all conflicts will be referred to a panel, which will rule whether a provincial or local government law is discriminatory against an individual or company. If the panel rules that a law or regulation is discriminatory, the law or regulation must be changed or the plaintiff can be awarded up to $5 million by the province. The province cannot go after municipalities for that money, but they can insist on a change to bylaws.

Pina Belperio, Whistler’s representative on the Council of Canadians, said the CoC is analyzing the changes, but feels that the UBCM did not go far enough.

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