December 13, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
MANITOBA'S municipalities want a piece of the action like Saskatchewan gets from urban reserves, along with land-compensation fees sister towns collect across the provincial border.
"Saskatchewan has set the bar and the other provinces are saying, 'Hey, wait a minute,' " Association of Manitoba Municipalities president Doug Dobrowolski said after a recent forum.
"Maybe you can't make the (exact same deal) but you have to up the ante," he said.
Dobrowolski and senior association executives were at the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba to talk up a joint campaign for more urban reserves in Manitoba.
They want to work with First Nations, but up to now Manitoba municipalities have been largely left out of the urban-reserve debate.
Manitoba's municipalities are struggling under a growing infrastructure deficit, with budgets stretched thinner every year.
Compensation for land and subsequent commercial spinoffs from successful land development on urban reserves could go a long way to ease that strain.
"We all need to play a role in this, and it's unfortunate that municipalities are left out until the end. We are your neighbours and we want to work with you," Dobrowolski said.
If municipalities back First Nations on urban reserves, the federal and provincial governments will have to give them both better deals, he argued.
Lengthy processes to convert private and public Crown lands into urban reserves can take years to complete. That stalls development.
Another problem for municipalities is lost taxes for the value of the land, separate from sewer, water, police and fire services paid in lieu of taxes every year.
"There is hardly sufficient incentive for municipalities to pursue TLE (Treaty Land Entitlement) settlements since it represents a considerable loss in tax revenue over the long term," Dobrowolski said in his speech.
The forum followed a Saskatchewan delegation that travelled to Winnipeg recently.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 2, 2013 A8