Municipal officials meet regarding school, Indigenous revenue sharing at UBCM convention

SPIN file photo.

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) Mayor Al Raine and chief administrative officer Shane Bourke attended the virtual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention last week, meeting with provincial ministers and supporting two key resolutions. 

The convention took place online from Sept. 13 to 17 with two voting sessions on resolutions.

Raine was present for the first resolution session, but a scheduling conflict with a Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) meeting, where he serves as a board member, prevented him from attending the second session.  

Raine supported the two policy papers, Ensuring Local Government Financial Resiliency and Primer on Climate Action and the Municipal Pension Plan.

“The report aims to address the downloading of costs, for police, housing, social services and homelessness,” read a press release from the UBCM  regarding the financial resiliency paper when it was endorsed on Sept. 15.

“The second motion was basically saying the municipal pension would get out of investments in fossil fuel,” said Raine of the pension plan motion which passed at 83 per cent.

In a typical year, Raine said there are usually 700 to 800 voting delegates, but this year delegate numbers hovered around 300 due to the virtual nature of the event. 

Mayor Raine and Bourke met with provincial education minister Jennifer Whiteside.

Raine said the intention for the meeting was to gain support for the Sun Peaks School.

“We spoke about education and about Sun Peaks School, the growth here and the need to service the future school site, something that we don’t have in our capital budget at this time.”

They also met with provincial minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation Murray Rankin to discuss revenue sharing between the provincial government, municipalities and neighboring First Nations bands.

Raine said they have been meeting with Minister Rankin for the past six months as well as at the convention on the issue. 

“[We’ve] been working on a reconciliation package. It’s a slow, hard process but we’re pushing [minister Rankin],” Raine said.

Other provincial ski areas already have a similar package in place, including Whistler and Mt. Baldy near Oliver, B.C.

Raine said there are some hiccups when it comes to revenue sharing with the neighbouring First Nations bands, such as the LIttle Shuswap Indian Band, who are leading the discussion with the provincial government.

“[Ski areas] share a percentage of lease revenues and land sale revenues from the resorts with the bands, but part of it is based on incremental revenues.”

Incremental revenues, which is the profit a business gains from an increase in sales, would not be favourable for bands considering COVID-19 has reduced revenue in Sun Peaks.

“Little Shuswap [Indian Band] pushed back on that, and I’ve been supportive of what they’re saying, with COVID and everything else [reducing revenue],” said Raine.

“Depending on where the base [revenue] is…if somebody went in two years ago getting incremental revenue, they may not be getting any incremental revenue [until revenue bounces back].”

Raine has instead advocated for total revenue sharing.

“It seems a bit unfair when you’re dealing with title and rights because title and rights didn’t start last year. It’s been there for a long time, and that’s something the government is wrestling with.”

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