Councillors to head east for conference

This year, two city councillors will be making use of the $7,000 budgeted for them to attend a four-day Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Niagara Falls.

Couns. Chad Eliason and Debbie Cannon were selected to attend the May 30 to June 2 event. Though the city budgets annually for two councillors to attend FCM ($3,500 per person for 2014), this will be the first time in three years that anyone from the city has opted to attend.

The last two FCM conferences were held in Vancouver and Saskatoon. In 2011, Eliason and former Mayor Marty Bootsma attended the FCM conference in Halifax.

The selection of this year’s attendees wound up being determined on a first-come basis, with Eliason and Cannon expressing interest last year.

“We budget for two councillors generally per year to go and no one has taken advantage of it or attended, or had the time or ability to do so,” said Eliason, speaking to a series emails he sent fellow councillors last year expressing his interest in attending. “I said early on that I wasn’t able to attend the other two, but I was interested in attending this one and I’d be looking for support.”

Eliason said Cannon replied to his emails, saying she would like to attend. And, Eliason continued, Coun. Marg Kentel also recently expressed interest.

Neither council nor staff knew if Mayor Nancy Cooper, who was absent, wished to attend. Cooper did state two weeks prior at council’s Jan. 13 meeting that she wouldn’t be attending this year’s Southern Interior Local Government Association Conference (also budgeted for), but said nothing about FCM.

With four potential candidates in the running for the Niagara Falls event, Couns. Alan Harrison and Ken Jamieson offered their support for two to attend, but said they weren’t interested in picking. With pressure for a decision from city administrator Carl Bannister, Coun. Denise Reimer, as acting deputy mayor, suggested that Eliason and Cannon go.

“I know Couns. Eliason and Cannon were ahead of the game and trying to get the information out to us, and it was important for them to want to be participants… if I have to make a decision, I will base it on that reason,” said Reimer.

At the Jan. 13 meeting, while debating who should attend another conference not specifically budgeted for, councillors suggested a discussion is needed to establish personal professional development goals with an allotted  amount each councillor would be allowed to spend per year.


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