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Adrian Dix pledges more consultation with mayors on B.C. issues

BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix attends the BC Mayors Caucus in Prince George, B.C., on April 30, 2013. An NDP government would create a stand-alone ministry for local government and hold annual roundtables, Mr. Dix has pledged.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

An NDP government would create a stand-alone ministry for local government and hold annual roundtables, Adrian Dix has pledged.

The B.C. NDP Leader made the announcement while speaking to the B.C. Mayors' Council in Prince George on Tuesday. The mayors had collectively asked him several questions, including whether he would make these two commitments.

"I have, in my brief career as leader of the opposition, been accused of giving extremely long speeches," Mr. Dix began. "You know, these are complicated times and I'm interested in the questions and I like to give very significant and long answers, which people sometimes find somewhat tedious. So, yes and yes."

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The answer elicited laughter and applause from the crowd, which comprised about 70 B.C. mayors, including Vancouver's Gregor Robertson, Surrey's Dianne Watts and Delta's Lois Jackson.

"One of the challenges right now is that we have multiple levels of government that often are acting in a way that is not in concert," Mr. Dix later expounded.

At present, he said, the provincial government "constantly seems to want to override municipal governments and then dump responsibilities on them." He cited P3 projects and TransLink funding as examples.

The B.C. Liberals have accused Mr. Dix of wanting to grow the government rather than the economy. When asked whether this newest pledge would only align with such accusations, Mr. Dix maintained it would help streamline relations between levels of government, ultimately benefitting the economy. "Here's an example: The government cuts staff to resource ministries. The result for business? A doubling of wait times. We need government to be more efficient and that is the intent of it."

Mr. Robertson said it was assuring to hear the commitment. "[Working with the province] has been challenging in recent years and there seems to be a strong commitment from Adrian Dix that he will change the tune and work more directly with communities," he said.

Said Ms. Watts: "We've been put in with sport and recreation, and when you actually look at the contribution to the GDP provincially, and all the things that we do, it's quite significant. To have those conversations, and to have the roundtable annually, I think is important. I know many of the mayors were happy to hear that."

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