Council members and our CAO recently attended the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) meetings in Victoria. This is where the issues that we are facing are discussed and voted on.
UBCM was formed 105 years ago to provide a common voice for local government, representing municipalities, regional districts, First Nations and regional district health districts. At this point, there is 100 per cent membership in UBCM and so it is an extremely important tool for us in moving our issues and concerns forward.
UBCM continues to be the main forum for policy-making. It provides an opportunity for local governments, of all sizes and from all areas of the province, to come together and share experiences and work towards providing better government for our citizens.
At this year’s convention, for the first time, there was 100 per cent representation from all the members. Policies developed by members are carried to other orders of government and other organizations involved in local affairs. Policy implementation activities have expanded from annual presentations to Cabinet to UBCM involvement in intergovernmental committees, regular meetings with Ministers and contact on a daily basis with senior government.
Your council was busy attending information sessions, workshops, cabinet panel meetings and the Annual General Meeting and policy resolution sessions. The policy sessions are very interesting and often the views presented, at the conference, help us in casting our votes.
We also met with several ministers and ministries. Aside from all of this, we meet other local government officials from all over the province and learn from each other’s experiences.
I arrived on Sunday to attend meetings and the Mayors’ caucus on the following day. One hundred and forty mayors from across the province attended to discuss financing from the Province and the Federal Government and the need for funding for infrastructure, among other issues.
Local governments receive eight cents out of every dollar collected to provide services but we provide the majority of the infrastructure.
Tuesday early morning breakfast, I met with the Columbia River Treaty Local Government committee and Minister Bill Bennett and the government treaty working committee to discuss where we have been and where we are going. You can look for another round of input in Nakusp on Nov. 28.
Council and our CAO met with Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Jobs, tourism and Skills Training, Pat Bell. We discussed the challenges faced by the municipality in regard to the Nakusp Hot Springs: where the Village is looking to go with this asset and how it fits in with the Provincial Tourism Strategy and the need for living wage jobs in Nakusp and area.
The Premier and the Minister were quite open to working with us and setting up some meetings with delegates that would be coming from overseas to see what opportunities are possible. It was a good meeting and we are looking forward to seeing what opportunities will best serve our community.
We also met with the Minister of Community Sport and Development, Bill Bennett to update him on the Community Recreation Grant for the footbridge project at the hot springs and also the boundary expansion at the hot springs where we own the parcel around the source. We later met with ministry of staff to discuss the proposed boundary expansion and how it was proceeding and also updated them on our various grant projects that we are completing.
Council met with the Ministry of Transportation and Highways to request that a back-up ferry stay in place once the new ferry is completed and the importance of our airport.
We were informed that there is no funding for upgrades at the present time but council will continue to look for it. We also requested that the fixed link be kept on the long range plan.
The Village of Nakusp was presented with a Climate Action Award for the work done at the Nakusp Hot Springs with the installation of heat pumps and re-circulating of hot springs water. It’s great to have our work recognized.
We each attended different cabinet panel meetings and Councillor Hughes and I chose the Healthy Community panel. I brought up the need for Canadian graduates of medical schools to be able to access positions in Canada in a timely manner. This is currently not happening and there are a number of Canadian citizens who are qualified and are having problems working in B.C. because of receiving their training in another country.
The Premier’s address was the last piece of business and it was an interesting one. She mentioned Nakusp and bringing a trade mission to us. That’s the second year in a row that Nakusp has been mentioned in the Premier’s address. The convention was a busy time and a very worthwhile experience.