Councillors tackle issues

UBCM: Meetings with premier, government ministers.

There was a lot more going on at this year’s  Union of B.C. Municipalities convention than the headlines let on.

Votes on smart meters, a proposed municipal auditor general position and the RCMP contract negotiations captured plenty of press, but municipal delegates at this year’s convention, Sept. 26-30, were plenty busy with other workshops and meetings.

Salmon Arm’s delegation met with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure regarding the Salmon River Bridge, the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation regarding consultation with First Nations, the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development regarding commercial and industrial taxes and the proposed municipal auditor, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General regarding intersection cameras promised last year but not delivered, and the Ministry of Environment regarding riparian area and cosmetic pesticide regulations. Mayor Marty Bootsma and attending councillors also met with Premier Christy Clark.

“It was simply a pleasant meet and greet, without complaint or lobbying for anything in particular,” said Bootsma of this meeting.

When not talking to the press about RCMP contract negotiations, Coun. Kevin Flynn was active chairing the Municipal Insurance Association Board meeting, as well as a panel on community partnerships.

The highlight of the conference for Flynn, however, was keynote speaker David Foot, author of Boom, Bust & Echo, who spoke to the impact of demographics on political decision making, the school system and to the global economy.

“His presentation made it very clear that Greenways and alternative transportation options are very important as our Canadian population ages,” said Flynn. “He also stated that part of the reason crime statistics are down is simply demographics, with less people in the typical high crime incidence ages.”

Along with the keynote presentation, Coun. Ivan Idzan took part in an agricultural study tour of several operations in the Abbotsford area. He says that while the Shuswap does reasonably well with agricultural production and tourism, there’s always something to learn from other communities and their businesses. Idzan, as president of the BC Library Trustees Association, said that after several years of advocating for an educational opportunity at UBCM about public libraries and their services, was able to offer such a session this year. Idzan also met with Education Minister and Shuswap MLA George Abbott, who is also responsible for libraries.

“The meeting with the minister was very positive, and he emphasized both his enjoyment of recreational reading and his aspiration to provide stability for B.C.’s public libraries,” said Idzan.

A highlight of the convention for Coun. Debbie Cannon was being able to hang out with Salmon Arm firefighter Mike Bailey on an outing at the Vancouver Rescue and Fire Training Centre. She says she was put on a team of four and geared up to take in some fire training of her own. This included breaking into a car using the Jaws of Life, and going into a burning tower to look for bodies.

“It was a hard four hours but wow, it puts a whole new light on for me as to what fire fighters do,” says Cannon.

Coun. Chad Eliason found value in attending the Green Communities forum. The most interesting part, says Eliason, was a presentation by Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore.

“Port Coquitlam has a target of 70 per cent waste diversion and are at 67 per cent currently,” says Eliason. “They explained that they use a three-bin system, one for waste that allows for varying levels of waste, small and large with the large having a higher annual fee. They also have a green bin for yard/green waste and last year added a third for kitchen scraps and food.”

Eliason says this is something he’d like to see the CSRD move towards.

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