Thursday, September 30, 2010

I love this story...

Another Living Wage community is coming to British Columbia, thereby doubling the number in Canada to two.

New Westminster led the way.

In New Westminster the living wage applies to people working directly for the city, as well as contractors who spend a significant amount of time on city property. Most city employees were already paid decently, so bringing everyone up to a living wage cost just $20,000 more a year, [New Westminster councilor Jaime McEvoy] said. Helping contractors, and it turned out there were 60 or 70 of them doing everything from maintaining street lights to shredding paper, meet the wage requirement required another $150,000 in increased payments.

Cities often give business to the lowest bidder, he said. "Then you're part of the problem and we were part of the problem, to be honest."

Looks like the Township of Esquimalt on Vancouver Island is about to follow New Westminster's lead.

More and more cities in the US (Portland, Oregon is one example) and now in Canada are taking control over issues that upper level governments persist in ignoring. Just yesterday was news of a Canadian city (can't remember which one) that was implementing its own tough environmental policy.

I'm really pleased about this. We need our communities and local politicians to exercise more clout. Perhaps as more of them do, more residents will become socially and politically engaged at the local level. That can never be a bad thing. One distinct advantage: if your local councillor ignores your phone calls, letters or emails, you can drop by for a neighbourly chat.

Our federal and provincial governments show little regard for the problems cities are facing and pay only lip service to our communities' representative organizations (e.g, the Union of Canadian Municipalities). That must change.

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