Recently, I received an e-mail from Minister Brian Kenney because I’ve been bugging MLAs & the Premier’s office about Local Improvement Charges (Or, as they are called in NB: LIAs.)
Finding out how to get a response from the government was a bit of a frustrating process… but guess what? Once I got through to the right channel, they were so thankful I’d gotten through because I had seen something that was a blindspot for them. I found them friendly, receptive & appreciative. It also turns out that the piece of legislation I wanted to change was thought to be archaic and no longer in use– therefore it was the first thing on the chopping block. No one had ever talked to them about this little line of legislation in all their consultations. Even though, in my mind, if this little line of legislation changed Municipalities & citizens would be empowered through economies of scale to change the way we use energy, create jobs and adapt to climate change.
As one of my favourite councillors often says municipalities have no intrinsic rights. They are given powers through the document known as The Municipalities Act. Ours, in NB, is the oldest in the country–dating back to the 70s. By 2018 our government plans to release the modernized & reviewed Municipalities Act. Had I not been a total geek about Local Improvement Charges ( how they are an AMAZING tool for adapting to climate change, creating jobs, greening the grid, saving tax payers money and emboldening Municipalities to lead the charge in social innovation)? This tool would have been erased from the act because no one had spoken up. I would’ve cursed the government for being backwards, and we would’ve been without an amazing tool until the next time a government modernized the act.
Moral of the story? Get geeky! Get bees in your bonnet about making where you live a better place & help your governments to do better however you can. They need the help, and the problems we face together are grand . Sometimes it just takes a few changes to a few lines of legislation and our communities can change.
Want to know more? Here’s my last e-mail to the policy analyst for Local Government in NB.