News from the Mayor’s office: Mayor’s report June 2012

Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling brings lots of news to the community.

The West Kootenay Regional Health Board meeting was held May 23 in Grand Forks. Dr. Halpenny, CEO for Interior Health and Alan Sinclair, Vice President of Acute Care Services were present. We received a report on the IH operations from Dr. Halpenny.

Our Physician recruitment has succeeded in bringing Dr. Sayed Subzwari and his family to Nakusp on June 23 and he will start work on July 3. The Arrow Lakes Hospital Foundation and the Arrow Lakes Hospital Auxillary have purchased a house and Dr. Subzwari and his family will be living in that house paying for the utilities and insurance, with the taxes being covered through a program that Dr. Lea has accessed. We hope that everyone will help make the Subzwari family welcome.

We are still actively looking to recruit more physicians to the area. Welcome packages and fruit baskets are being provided for locums who come to Nakusp, and they have appreciated this gesture.

The Downtown/Park Committee will be setting a date for a meeting to finalize the banners for downtown.

I have been advised that Waterbridge Steel Inc. has officially been awarded the contract and will be signed today and a news release has been issued. Good news for Nakusp as the ferry will be built here.  It is expected that this will provide jobs and help our businesses.

The RDCK Board meeting was held May 24. The RDCK approved 244 projects for $1,214,951.62 in CBT Community Initiatives and Affected Area Funding Programs. There was a lot of discussion at the table on what constitutes local government responsibilities and funding, and if and when CBT funds can be allocated. We will be having a discussion with CBT staff to clarify concerns.

I also attended the Corporate Review Board meeting June 7 in Nelson. The Board is looking at ways to enhance organizational and governance excellence. Each board member was also interviewed for the process.

The West Kootenay Transit Committee is coming along. The board has approved the objectives of a Service Review by endorsing a memorandum of understanding prepared by BC Transit to integrate nine transit services for our region, with the objective being to reduce the complexity of the system, increase ridership and become more user friendly. The committee will comprise of six members: three representatives from the RDCK and three from the RDKB; I have been appointed to sit as a representative for the RDCK.

The Columbia Basin Trust Local Government Committee has been a very active committee and sitting as Vice-chair of this committee, I have been very busy with teleconferences and meetings. The CBT LG committee, with the help of the CBT staff, are sponsoring the second round of CRT information sessions in the basin.

The Nakusp and area session was held on Monday night from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. with 90 people attending. Most of the people arrived just after 4 p.m. and remained until 8:30. The CBT staff does an excellent job of setting up with printed information and visual displays and providing answers to questions about the process.

Breakout groups held during the afternoon and evening, enabled people to learn and to bring concerns forward. This information will be used by the CBT LG team and the province for further consultation.

The B.C. team, led by Kathy Eichenberger, Executive Director, gave an in-depth look at the treaty process. We were fortunate to have Gordon McNabb present. Gordon was one of the original negotiators of the treaty and has a vast knowledge and expertise and has been a huge benefit to the Gov’t team in understanding the intent of the treaty. Mr. McNabb spoke to us on the differences between negotiating a treaty in the 60s and in today’s world. Social and environmental concerns were not a priority. The priority was “what would be the best tool for flood control to bring about the maximum benefit.”  Mr.  McNabb told the audience that “the Arrow Lakes was key to the treaty.”  After listening to Mr. McNabb, it became very clear to me that since the Arrow Lakes was and is key to the treaty, we should be able to hold our government to the promise of the bridge infrastructure and the economic benefits that they stated would be coming to our area.

A point of interest is that 6,000 megawatts of electricity (produced in the Kootenays) provides approximately half of the province’s electricity. This equates to $1 billion in revenue, with the downstream benefits provides anywhere from $120 million to $130 million in revenue on top of that.

We are fortunate and grateful to have the CBT and the funding it provides but I’m thinking we should be receiving infrastructure funding as well.

The province wants to know how we want to be consulted. There will be a fall public consultation and other areas of consultation could include webinars, conferences etc. You can make your opinions and concerns, comments at columbiarivertyreaty@gov.bc.ca and I encourage everyone to go to the website and enter the discussion and get your friends and neighbours involved as well. Kathy’s role is to gather information and make recommendations to the Province.

There are several new board members sitting on the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust. Our AGM will be held in Vernon on June 27 and June 28 will be an orientation day. I am sitting on the finance committee. Several communities have just received a $50,000 grant to help them towards broadband, including Lumby and Trail.

Nakusp’s 120th Birthday celebrations are shaping up! Celebrations will be held on June 30 and July 1. As reported previously, Broadway Street will be closed off for the day on June 30. Various events planned for the day with the Parkour group taking an active part in making the celebrations a success. There is a challenge from the Parkour group, to council, to put in a team for one of the races. The bands The Rippin’ Rattlers and Ball Gag ‘n’ Chain have been booked for June 30 and July 1.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities met from May 31 to June 4 in Saskatoon this year, with 2012 marking the 75th year of the organization. The theme was Strong Cities, Strong Communities, and Strong Canada, and the program was well thought out and the meetings informative. Priority municipal issues that are affected by federal policies and programs were high on the program. The biggest difference that I noticed this year was the move toward ensuring that rural issues were heard. Infrastructure is definitely the hot topic.  The Federal Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Denis Lebel, spoke to the delegates and said that he heard the need for funding for infrastructure and the importance of as well as the needs of rural communities and he would be working toward funding for infrastructure. The current funding programs end in 2014/2015. A tribute to Jack Layton was held and his widow was present.

The President’s Forum Panel on State of Canada’s Cities and Communities was a great addition to the FCM conference. The panellists were Berry Vrbanovic, FCM President; Rick Antonson, CEO Vancouver Tourism; Gerry Klein, City Hall Reporter, Saskatoon Star Phoenix and Karen Leibovici, First Vice President for FCM.  Four questions were posed to the panellists and it was interesting to hear their different perspectives on the various topics.

The issue of CAP site closures was discussed and the affect it has on small communities.  Closure of CAP sites in larger areas where there is broadband access does makes sense but not in smaller areas, like Nakusp, where broadband is not readily available and some areas still only have access to dial up.  Discussion on broadband and access to all communities was also a topic of discussion, and FCM will work with both these issues.