BCNPHA in the News

BC Local News: City council and CRD in Whistler this week for UBCM

Monica Lamb-Yorski / BC Local News / September 11, 2019 (with mention of BCNPHA CEO Jill Atkey)

The majority of Williams Lake city councillors and Cariboo Regional District directors are converging at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention taking place in Whistler this week.

“For years we’ve talked about affordability as a big city problem, but what data shows is that it’s a problem in all communities” -Jill Atkey #ubcm2018 #bchousing

From Sept. 10 – 14, delegates from all over the province attend the convention each year to debate resolutions that have been submitted from local governments, attend talks, network and meet with provincial ministers and deputy ministers about issues impacting them.

Six resolutions from the Cariboo will be considered by delegates.

Four of the resolutions were penned by the Cariboo Regional District. The other two by the City of Williams Lake.

The CRD’s first resolution is that by-elections not be required by regional districts in an election year if a vacancy occurs after Jan. 1 in a general election year.

A second resolution proposes that the provincial government enact any legislative and or policy changes necessary to ensure that local emergency organizations that are requested to and do assist during a declared State of Emergency receive timely compensation for their time and supplies used assisting the Province in this manner.

In its third resolution, the CRD is advocating amendments to the Rural Dividend Fund Process to provide allocation to local governments each year through a multi-year agreement, similar to the federal Gas Tax Fund.

The fourth resolution is asking the provincial government to work toward parity in hospital district capital contributions. Normally hospital districts contribute up to 40 per cent of capital expenses incurred by local health authorities.

However, Metro Vancouver has been relieved of its obligation to provide a contribution to hospital capital costs, shifting additional costs to the health authority, impacting the ability of the Ministry of Health to fund capital projects for hospitals.

The Board has also requested meetings with Ministers and ministry staff at UBCM and are awaiting confirmation. The proposed meeting topics are recycling programs, emergency preparedness and response, expanding cellular and broadband services in rural areas, continuing concerns following the Mount Polley tailings pond breach, the Spanish Mountain Gold project, garbage maintenance at the McLeese Lake boat launch and communications around the Commodore Heights ditching project.

Resolutions from the City of Williams Lake both touch on wildfires — mitigation and Fire-Smarting incentives.

Firstly, that the provincial government support and implement changes to its wildfire mitigation practices to allow for spacing of fibre stands, prescribed burning, larger fuel breaks around residential communities, and other methods to lessen the provincial landscape’s susceptibility to mega-fires and better protect citizens and assets.

Secondly, that the federal and provincial governments and the Insurance Bureau of Canada provide incentive options for property owners and agricultural land owners to reduce the amount of forest fire fuel on privately-owned land through one or multiple options, including: reduced home insurance rates upon certification of adequate FireSmart status; a tax rebate in correlation to the amount of fibre removed from the property to achieve FireSmart status; and, or a reduction in property tax rates once certification of FireSmart status is achieved.

Read more: City councillor proposes incentives for fire-smarting

Mayor Walt Cobb said all of council was going except for Laurie Walters and Sue Zacharias who are not seeking re-election.

“Milo MacDonald our chief administrative officer is attending as well to meet with other CAOs as it will be a good opportunity for him as he’s only been in the job for two years.”

One of the things Cobb enjoys the most at the convention is collaborating with bigger cities to find out how they are tackling certain issues.

“Our Northern Central Local Government Association conference is good because it gets all our communities together in the north, whereas at UBCM it gives us the opportunity meet with people from the larger cities to hear how they are doing things,” he said.

While in Whistler, council will meet with representatives from various ministries including tourism, finance, public safety and solicitor general, transportation, forestry, health, advanced education and Indigenous relations.

During the meeting with tourism council will ask about ferries and the impact the wildfires have had on the region.

“The tourism businesses impacted are not in the city, but their lack of business impacts us,” Cobb said.

Read more: CCCTA hosts tourism symposium “Beyond the Wildfires”

They will also be meeting with Emergency Management B.C.,

Cariboo Regional District chair Margo Wagner said most of the board is going, except for Dylan Cash.

“I’m excited because I had meetings with chairs and CAOs from the Regional District of Fraser Fort George and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District at the 108 in June and we have actually got the three meetings we asked for as a ‘tri-rd’,” Wagner said, noting they will also meet Emergency Management B.C., about connectivity and cell service, and with environment and climate change strategy, where they will discuss the expansion of stewardship programs to include recycling materials from the ICI sector.

The convention is good for networking with other elected government officials, she added.

“It’s a good opportunity to meet with ministers, but it’s an even better opportunity to meet with deputy ministers because the ministerial meetings tend to be a bit of a speed-dating thing. You can reinforce issues that you brought up before. The resolution part is big too and what we go down there to do.”

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