The Thompson-Nicola Regional District will informally ask the Union of B.C. Municipalities to look into possible use of federal gas tax funds to help fight COVID-19.
Spences Bridge rural Director Steven Rice made a motion at Thursday’s (March 26, 2020) board meeting to officially ask the UBCM to request that the federal government amend eligibility criteria for gas tax funds to allow up to 20 per cent of them to go toward COVID-19 issues.
The gas tax funds are distributed annually to municipalities and regional districts based on population. The TNRD, in turn, allots the funds to each electoral area, again based on population. Rice’s motion would have affected only electoral-area gas tax funds, as municipalities have their own policies on how they’re used.
Criteria for eligibility are very strict and frequently the subject of requested amendments but are normally only reviewed every five years.
Rice’s motion would have asked an exception be made given the current pandemic, but a number of directors felt the board should wait until federal and provincial COVID-19 funding initiatives become more clear. Others suggested the motion should be formally submitted as a notice of motion and debated at the next board meeting.
I supported Rice’s motion and suggested time is of the essence and that the notice of motion practice should be waived in this case.
Unfortunately, the motion was defeated, with nine municipal directors and seven electoral area directors — out of a board of 26 directors — voting against it.
However, Kamloops Director Arjun Singh, who is past president of UBCM, offered to informally discuss the gist of Rice’s request with his UBCM colleagues. UBCM administers gas-tax funds for the feds.
— Mel Rothenburger, Director, Electoral Area P (Rivers and the Peaks)