05/16/2012 08:34 EDT | Updated 07/16/2012 05:12 EDT

Provincial leaders gather in Penticton for inaugural B.C. Mayors' Caucus

PENTICTON, B.C. - Eighty-six mayors from across B.C. are gathering in Penticton for the province's first-ever Mayors' Caucus.

Topics on the agenda of the three-day meeting include creating a "new deal" for local communities and building the provincial economy.

Organizers say the need for a voice from B.C. mayors has been mounting as the challenges facing local governments continue to expand, but funding from senior governments fails to keep pace.

The mayors of Cranbrook, Fort St. John and Smithers joined colleagues in Penticton, Prince Rupert, Prince George and Victoria in driving the caucus toward today's inaugural meeting.

Metro Vancouver mayors Dianne Watts of Surrey and Greg Moore of Port Coquitlam round out the steering committee that will welcome the other municipal leaders in Penticton.

The Mayors' Caucus is modelled on similar bodies in Alberta and Atlantic Canada, as well as the Big City Mayors Caucus which meets two or three times each year to discuss issues common to this country's largest cities. (CKOR)