This past week I was in Victoria with council to attend the annual convention of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. The first full day was the second Mayors’ Caucus, to take advantage of the mayors already being in town for the UBCM. We had 140 of the 160 B.C. mayors in attendance, presenting a very strong voice to the provincial and federal governments. Our united message is that we require immediate action to provide stable, predictable, long-term infrastructure funding to meet municipal needs as defined by our own communities’ priorities. The intent is to eliminate the grant program that pits one community against the other and leads us to chase after funds that align with the priorities of other orders of government rather than our own.
This UBCM convention is very beneficial. Every day was a full agenda, attending a variety of forums, clinics, policy sessions and workshops. These sessions covered a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to Internet voting, economic development initiatives, resources and the environment, collaborative watershed governance, etc. There was also plenty of opportunity for sharing best practices on topics like revenue and expenditure ideas to ensure sustainable capacity in our communities. I was able to arrange for very beneficial meetings with the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development as well as the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. Some others I met with were BCR Properties, CN Rail and the Council of Private Forest Lands.
As a member municipality we were also debating the more than 200 resolutions put forward from B.C. communities. Squamish presented three resolutions, one on our own and two jointly with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District. All three resolutions received full support and were endorsed by the membership. The motions include changes: to allow Development Cost Charges to be applied to flood protection projects, to require IPPs to share stream-flow data for public safety benefit and to LCLB licencing provisions for the service of liquor in venues without a permanent liquor licence. There was a wide variety of resolutions to debate, ranging from decriminalizing marijuana to changing UBCM’s name to stopping the expansion of oil tanker traffic, to regulating the sale of unsterilized rabbits.
Of all communities represented, Squamish won a Community Excellence Award for community engagement for the program we developed and implemented to Celebrate Local Government Awareness Week.