SIMPSON: The role of local government is changing

Mayor Bob Simpson outlines what mandate creep means for Quesnel

The City of Quesnel is not a social service delivery or planning agency. This is hard for some people to accept, as evidenced by the (sometimes very nasty) emails and calls we can get when critical social services are seen as insufficient in our community.

The City gets its main source of revenue from property taxes. Utility fees are the other main source, but, unlike property taxation, these fees are directly tied to the utility they are collected for (water, sewer, solid waste) while Council has more flexibility with how it allocates the general property taxes collected by the City each year.

The traditional role of local government was to spend all the property taxes it collected each year on programs and services that protected property (fire, police, bylaw), maintained infrastructure and amenities (roads, sidewalks, public buildings, parks, and City-owned playgrounds and recreation venues), maintained City-owned equipment, and provided services that benefit the community as a whole (development services, building permits, snow clearing, dust control, etc.).

In the past, when local government was focused only on providing localized services to local ratepayers, City Councils always fretted when they felt pushed to move beyond this simplistic approach to community governance; most often seeing any addition to this mandate (e.g. economic or social development) as a form of “downloading” by the provincial and federal governments. “Mandate creep” was always vehemently resisted by local Councils, and rightly so, as the level of government with the least ability to raise revenue and the most direct accountability to ratepayers is local government.

Over the past few decades, “mandate creep” has become the norm for local government. In part, due to the changing nature of our society, and, in part, due to decades of cutbacks and retrenchment by the Provincial and Federal governments, particularly in the domains of local economic development, social housing, and social programs, especially for people with mental health and addictions issues.

However, this does not mean local governments have become a social service agency. Municipal Councils still do not have the direct mandate or sufficient resources to fill gaps in the social service system in their community. At best, they can be lobbyists and willing partners — pushing higher levels of government to improve program delivery in their communities and providing a means for provincial and federal grants come into the community to support needed services and programs.

That is the role Quesnel City Council now plays in the social domain: as an active lobbyist for program improvements and as a willing partner with provincial and federal agencies and not-for-profits. For example, Council is currently facilitating the creation of more childcare capacity in our community, supporting our new Seniors Council, lobbying for more social housing and supports to address homelessness, working with Northern Health to address mental health and addictions issues, and supporting efforts to address food security.

Council still does not have a mandated lead role in developing or creating social services, but we have a strong track record of applying our political capital and our ability to obtain grant funding when a community need is made evident to us by the social service agencies and organizations who do have the direct responsibility to deliver these services.

-City of Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson

READ MORE: Quesnel Council hears development plans

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The public is being asked to use caution when doing backyard burning in the Cariboo Fire Centre. (File photo)
Caution urged with outdoor burning says Cariboo Fire Centre

Anyone conducting burning must ensure adequate resources are on hand to stop fire from spreading

Four defibrillators will be installed around Quesnel at the Bouchie Lake, Barlow Creek and Parkland community halls and at Alex Fraser Park. (Black Press file photo)
North Cariboo Joint Committee approve defibrillators, cycling trail maintenance

The committee held a brief meeting, approving projects in the Quesnel area

There have been four COVID-19 exposures in Quesnel School District facilities. (File Photo)
Northern health detects COVID-19 case at Kersley Elementary

It’s the fourth case detected in the Quesnel School district this school year

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FIle)
VIDEO: Rare blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca vaccines, Health Canada says

One case of the adverse effect has been reported in Canada

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

The music video for “Green and Blue” featured a Willington Care Centre in Burnaby as well as some of the volunteers and employees. (Screenshot/Todd Richard)
‘Green and Blue’: B.C. country musician releases tribute song for front-line workers

Richard’s new single has been viewed more than 3,000 times on his YouTube channel

An unidentified B.C. man said, in a human rights complaint, that he was refused a contract job after refusing to wear a mask when asked to by an on-site manager. (Unsplash)
Religious B.C. man lodges human rights complaint after fired for refusing to wear a mask

Worker’s claim that ‘to cover up our face infringes on our God-given ability to breathe’ dismissed by B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via
VIDEO: B.C. car dealer posts clip of thieves towing a truck right off his lot

Video shows one white truck towing another off Vancouver Island lot

FILE – People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to request federal exemption for simple drug possession

Announcement comes on 5-year anniversary of B.C.’s first public health emergency

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Indigenous Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Most Read