Would-be premiers could think more about what cities need

As the leadership competitions ramp up, candidates are starting to fling more and more promises: holidays, money, pledges to listen, really listen, this time.

Being the urban wonk, I’m the most interested in the promises affecting cities. Which are starting to trickle in.  Kevin Falcon put out the idea today of giving municipalities half of any proceeds of crime. (A nice thought, when you think of the grow-op house they sold off for $1.3 million, according to today’s news.)

Christy Clark talked about looking again at the way casino money is being distributed — a sore point among charities, which have seen their share decline since they helped make casinos palatable to the public by arguing that the share of profits being distributed for good causes made it all worthwhile.

Obviously, both of those ideas are attractive to cities, strapped for money to pay for policing or to help community groups.

But I have a feeling a lot of people who actually run cities are feeling the way you or I do when we make a Christmas list filled with practical suggestions (new gardening gloves, pyjamas, coffee maker, toolbox, vacuum cleaner) and instead get Starbucks gift card. Okay, having $100 worth of free lattes could theoretically help you save up for the gloves or toolbox, but why do we have to go through the contortions?

If you want to know what cities would really like from the provincial government, they already have a Christmas list sitting and waiting for potential leaders.

Here, free from me, all campaign teams the next time you have a slow day and need something to announce, is the list of resolutions passed at the most recent Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, where politicians everywhere from Fort St. John to Sooke asked the province to help them out with various desperately needed items.

What they’d like:

- more help dealing with mental health and addictions (Sechelt District, Williams Lake, Dawson Creek)

- more help dealing with crime through community justice programs (Sechelt) or getting more money for the RCMP from the HST (Invermere) or getting more help dealing with summertime resort populations (Cowichan Valley) or getting more money for victim services (Richmond) or making sure smaller communities won’t be hit with giant investigation bills or court costs (Dawson Creek)

- some of the carbon-tax money that the province is collecting to help pay for the new environmental standards that it imposed on cities as part of its green plan (Metro Vancouver)

- more efforts on recycling (Whistler,  Delta, Central Kootenay)

- more for libraries, more for arts, more for schools.

And, if that’s not enough, here’s a couple more:

- A solution for the transit-funding mess at TransLink, where the province actually comes up with something besides more property taxes to pay for the system.

- Changes to campaign-spending rules in time for this November’s election.

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