TILMA: Burnaby, Kent, Coquitlam and Delta voice concerns at Lower Mainland Local Government Association 2007 AGM in Whistler, BC
The Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) has received another blow, this time at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) 2007 Annual General Meeting and Conference held May 9-11 in Whistler, BC where delegates debated resolutions from the City of Burnaby, District of Kent, City of Coquitlam, and the Corporation of Delta expressing significant concerns with the agreement.
The City of Burnaby said TILMA “was negotiated…without sufficient consultation with local government” and resolved that “the Provincial Government be asked to exempt local government from the terms and conditions of TILMA until there has been comprehensive and open consultation with local government and the general public into the need for, terms of, and consequences of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement.”
The District of Kent echoed Burnaby’s concern saying TILMA “was signed without appropriate consultation with local governments and the public” adding it “would accord private individuals and corporations the extraordinary right to challenge local government...and to seek up to $5,000,000 in damages arising from each alleged TILMA violation." Kent resolved to ask the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to “request that the provincial government negotiate a clear, permanent exception from TILMA for municipalities and municipal organizations or withdraw from the agreement.”
The City of
The Corporation of Delta concern focused on municipal procurement procedures resolving “that the Province be requested not to enact legislation to impose AIT or TILMA procurement requirements on municipalities.”
The resolutions, in part, appear to contradict statements made earlier this year by the Hon. Colin Hansen, BC Minister of Economic Development in editorials to various newspapers claiming local governments were consulted.
One example is a January 30, 2007, letter to the Barriere Star Journal, where Hansen stated: “Consultations were held with ministries, local governments, business groups and academic institutions.”
Hansen’s letters, which are posted on the Ministry of Economic Development website, do not say which local governments were consulted or in what way.
A February 2007 report from City Solicitor Theresa Dust to Saskatoon City Council appears to support what BC municipalities have been saying. In it Dust wrote: “It is our understanding from a City of Burnaby council report that in British Columbia, leading up to TILMA, consultations were carried out by the Provincial Government with government departments and agencies, business groups, academic institutions and provincial regulatory bodies. No consultations were done with municipalities and no apparent analysis was done of the real impact of TILMA on municipalities.”
Given the number of BC municipalities saying they weren’t consulted suggest Hansen’s claim might be less than legitimate.
A further concern is the request by local governments to be permanently exempt from TILMA. This would appear to be inconsistent with the agreement's overall intent for “no obstacles” and to “eliminate barriers that restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility.” It would also be at odds with the January 24, 2007, joint letter sent to municipalities by BC Economic Development Minister Colin Hansen and Alberta Intergovernmental Minister Guy Boutilier that states “Once the TILMA is fully implemented in April 2009, it will also apply to local governments.”
Although the letter goes on to say that the two-year transitional period will provide time to negotiate “any required special provisions or exclusions for local governments” it is difficult to imagine a scenario where local governments and measures relating to them are completely exempt from TILMA.
According to an April 11, 2007, letter Hansen wrote to the Invermere Valley Echo “The TILMA ensures that there is a level playing field for everybody.”
If local governments were granted an exemption then Crown corporations, school boards, and publicly funded academic, health and social service entities might attempt to seek the same.
In fact, it has already begun. At its 103rd Annual General Meeting, held April 19-22 in Victoria, the British Columbia School Trustees Association passed a resolution requesting “That BCSTA call upon the Provincial Government to exempt school districts completely from the provisions of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement.”
It will be interesting to see how these competing interests are dealt with.
The Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) is one of the five area associations within the UBCM and it includes 31 member municipalities (from Lillooet to Hope) and 3 regional districts (
The LMLGA is a non-profit organization whose purpose includes promoting and advancing to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) on behalf of the membership, proposed changes in legislation, regulations, or Government policies.
The UBCM was formed to provide a common voice for local government. UBCM initiates, monitors, interprets and reacts where such changes could have an effect on local governments and the communities they serve.
The following are the full text of the LMLGA 2007 Annual General Meeting and Conference motions relating to TILMA:
R28 TRADE INVESTMENT AND LABOUR MOBILITY AGREEMENT
WHEREAS the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) was negotiated and executive the Provincial Government without sufficient consultation with local government:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Provincial Government be asked to exempt local government from the terms and conditions of TILMA until there has been comprehensive and open consultation with local government and the general public into the need for, terms of, and consequences of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement.
R31 TRADE, INVESTMENT AND LABOUR MOBILITY AGREEMENT (TILMA)
District of Kent
WHEREAS the BC/Alberta, Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), which was signed without appropriate consultation with local governments and the public, would expose to challenge all government measures that “restrict or impair” trade, investment or labour mobility, unless such measures are specifically exempted from TILMA;
AND WHEREAS TILMA would accord private individuals and corporations the extraordinary right to challenge local government land use planning and other public interest decisions that they allege offend the agreement’s rules, and to seek up to $5,000,000 in damages arising from each alleged TILMA violation:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the
R32 TRADE, INVESTMENT AND LABOUR MOBILITY AGREEMENT
WHEREAS the British Columbia – Alberta, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) consists of a set of General Rules and Special Provisions that apply to all government measures such as legislation, regulations, standards, policies, procedures and guidelines that affect trade, investment and labour mobility;
AND WHEREAS the ultimate goal of TILMA is to reconcile all differences in standards between the Provinces of British Columbia and Alberta;
AND WHEREAS the Provincial Government indicates that a two-year transition period applies however, TILMA contains a provision that states that no new measures can be introduced after April 3, 2007:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the UBCM review and respond to the following concerns:
i) Ensuring that the TILMA include a clause guaranteeing that any difference in standards be reconciled to the higher standard;
ii) Why and does the TILMA force lower procurement threshold limits on municipalities;
iii) What impact will TILMA have on regional district and municipalities?;
iv) The decisions regarding harmonizing of standards, bylaws, policies and other measures are to be determined by dispute panels. How can local governments ensure that the provincial government will represent their interests before the dispute panel so that regulatory measures cannot be overturned?;
v) Clarification regarding the proposed two year transition period when some aspects of TILMA apply to local governments beginning April 1, 2007:
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the provincial government ensure that local governments have the right to choose whether or not to be bound by TILMA and further, that Council encourage the Provincial Government to establish Public Hearings to promote the understanding of TILMA.
R35 MUNICIPAL PROCUREMENT PROCEDURES
Corporation of Delta
WHEREAS the Agreement on International Trade (AIT) and the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) have been entered into by the Province and may be extended to municipalities;
AND WHEREAS municipalities generally comply with the intent of the AIT and TILMA procurement provisions, however, in certain instances it may be proper and advantageous for municipalities not to carry out a formal tender process:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Province be requested not to enact legislation to impose AIT or TILMA procurement requirements on municipalities.