One hot topic Central Saanich Coun. Zeb King heard at the recent Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention, is a subject he says is popular around the province — a lack of funding for public schools.
King say schools and kids are under-funded and communities have to rally with school boards to raise the importance of funding public schools and education.
During Monday’ night’s council meeting, and a follow up email to the News Review, King reported out from a meeting with the Minister of Education during the convention.
King said one of the common refrains he heard that was expressed from various communities fighting for their schools across the province. He said they met as a follow-up to the school districts request in July to waive fees for Bayside Middle School. He said they delivered the message that schools are provincial and deserve adequate funding to make them safe.
King said he’s heard from different municipalities in different ways who are concerned about the funding formula for schools. Many municipalities, he said, decided to join together with their school boards to advocate for their schools, because even though it’s not their direct jurisdiction, schools and education, schools especially, he said, impact their municipalities and are important to them.
“It was heard that at least we value our public school and support the funding that’s needed for it and gave a little bit of a message that we don’t want to see offloading to the municipality for the repairs and upkeep of that provincial asset.”
He made the case to the Minister that they think the province should shoulder the true and full costs of the repairs, including fees, as he said it’s a way for municipalities to pay for needed services like safer pedestrian walkways for kids and families to walk to school etc.
“There was a common concern that children, our young people may be getting the short end of the stick. They typically don’t vote, and so maybe the province is cutting corners on that end and then therefore having the budget to make announcements in other areas,” said King.
In his email, he said waiving fees puts a greater burden on property taxes to pay for municipal services like safe pedestrian walkways.
“Essentially, I don’t want to let the province off the hook for paying for public education, including capital costs of schools,” he said.
Other councillors from Central Saanich also attended the convention and provided feedback to the community in attendance at Monday’s council meeting.
Mayor Ryan Windsor said the meetings they had with the various minister’s were important.
“Central Saanich did have a resolution in there this year with respect to non-migratory geese in the CRD specifically…” he said at Monday night’s council meeting.
There was an amendment proposed to the resolution in a block of resolutions that passed.
One amendment was that instead of municipalities automatically receiving responsibility, it would be the discretion of the municipality to decide whether or not they wished to take on the responsibility for some of the management of non-migratory geese.
There was also a session with respect to the movement of soils across municipal jurisdiction.
Windsor said Central Saanich has their own deposit control bylaw, and the provincial government is developing new standards, but have not shown them yet.
He said it’s pertinent, as they see an ever growing problem with the transport of invasive species, and the list seems to grow longer with new things arriving from other districts all the time.
However, they are looking for a more co-ordinated approach between the efforts of the provincial government and the local government efforts in the various jurisdictions within the CRD as soil movement continues to be something that happens on a regular basis with developments and other reasons.
“We will look forward to updates with respect to soil movement and also any challenges that they may place upon us. With respect to our own bylaws it is yet unclear… but we should anticipate those changes,” said Windsor.
Councillors highlighted a number of concerns from residents within Central Saanich to various ministers and government staffers during the UBCM annual conference last week.
Coun. Christopher Graham said he enjoyed the agriculture tour as always, which was almost entirely in Central Saanich.
Graham sat beside ALC chair Frank Leonard who spoke quite a bit about several items, which Graham said provided an opportunity to discuss some items such as ongoing concerns at Stanhope Organics.