And the province heard from the Boundary region...

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
October 18th, 2010

Every fall delegates gather to bring the attention of the provincial government to the needs of communities and regional districts from across B.C. Boundary area representatives were very pleased by the results of their time spent at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) annual convention in the last week of September. “I think that the Boundary communities definitely got their message out. Whether it was Grand Forks council speaking during resolution session, or Midway meeting with ministers, or us doing it through a bit more grass roots approach, we were well represented and moved a lot of things forward,” said Greenwood City Councillor Christopher Stevenson.   From clinics and workshops, to the “Small Talk” table, and on to meetings with the province, delegates attending the UBCM learn, discuss, share, and even appeal directly to provincial Ministers about concerns from their local areas. Motions passed at the convention are directed to the UBCM executive and the provincial government to be addressed in the following year.   Village of Midway   Following up on issues that have been ongoing for the Village of Midway, Mayor Randy Kappes reported to his council that their meetings with Minister of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development Iain Black to discuss the inclusion of the Boundary region in the Columbia Basin Trust. Kappes and Councillor Gary Schierbeck attended the week’s meetings for the Village.   “MLA John Slater came along with us and actually did a really good job of presenting our arguments for us,” said Kappes. “The Minister was less receptive of hearing them from ourselves than he was hearing them from his colleague so it really helped, John being there. That being said, he’s going to take a look at it but he didn’t think there would be much coming from that discussion.”   Kappes also met with the RCMP to discuss staffing levels and on-call situations. He said that the RCMP was planning to review the situation and they committed to looking at the problems and replying to the Village in the future. The last meeting for Midway was with the head of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to continue to try and free up their airport land from the agricultural land reserve.   “This was by far the best meeting we’ve ever had with the ALC,” said Kappes. “All our planning documents were pointing in the same direction. We have reports that show that the land is not good agricultural value. He said he would not commit to anything, but that he felt it was a worthwhile instance to take a look at reviewing.”   City of Greenwood   While the City of Greenwood had no scheduled meetings with any Ministers, City Councillor Christopher Stevenson explained that he felt he may have had more success bringing his concerns forward from the floor and garnering support from other communities.   There were two key issues Stevenson was asked to address on behalf of the municipality – lack of control over highways that run through small communities, and the closures of the Trans Canada trail around the region.   “For example, if we want to put a crosswalk in we can’t just put one in, we have to go through bureaucratic rigmarole to get one. It’s not up to us, it depends upon if highways wants one,” said Stevenson.   He took the issue to a “Small Talk Forum” and other communities seemed to get behind it too. Working with Grand Forks City Councillor Chris Moslin, they took it to the convention floor as a motion and it was passed unanimously. Stevenson spoke directly to the Minister of Transportation, Shirley Bond, at another forum where he again received support from other communities.   Stevenson said he pursued a personal item the deals with waste management. He is advocating for adoption of the refund deposit system to batteries, tires, etc. and it was very well received.   City of Grand Forks   Two meetings with ministers topped the list of the activities at the UBCM for the Grand Forks City Council. Most of the councillors attended the convention and Mayor Brian Taylor, accompanied by councillors, met with the Minister of Environment, Barry Penner, and the Minister of Transportation, Shirley Bond.   The meeting with Penner was to deal with the urban wildlife problems that Grand Forks is facing. The dilemma of ungulates living within cities has received attention from the ministry and there are staff assigned to assist urban areas.   “They are beginning to pay more and more attention to it. What we wanted to establish, and what we wanted to assure our own electorate, is that we share the problem with the province, its not ‘them and us,’” explained Taylor. “We were just reassuring him that what we were asking for were resources, but we are not afraid to kick in ourselves with costs.”   The motion put forward by Grand Forks requesting that there be conservation officers and resources allocated to the ungulate problem passed.   The meeting with Bond was to discuss the railway. “She had done her homework and we gave her a quick and concise presentation and said ‘all we want to know is that the door is open,” said Taylor. “It went very well.”   Grand Forks representatives also participated in policing sessions, industrial taxation discussions, and the other motion from the city asking for the return of gaming funds to non-profits organization grants also passed.   Councillor Joy Davies was particularly pleased when the motion proposed by Victoria Councillor Philippe Lucas to move control of the medical marijuana program from Health Canada to the province passed. Davies said that the vote was close, but passed with a majority.   Christina Lake   While there were no specific topics put forward by Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, and particularly area C, Grace McGregor finished up her term on the executive of the UBCM at the convention.   A resolution brought to the floor proposing a four-year term for local government elected officials ended in a ballot vote.   “There was a huge discussion where they ended up barring the doors and having a standing count,” said McGregor. “Then from the standing count they went to a secret ballot. It was a hot topic!”   In the end people preferred the three-year term and that decision will go forward to the province. McGregor said there was good discussion on the new Water Act, rural resource roads funding, pine beetle mitigation and community sustainability. McGregor chaired a deer forum for communities and participated in a forum with five ministers speaking. 

“I found it more informative than a lot of UBCM’s have been,” said McGregor. “I found the ministers were quite approachable, and they were attending sessions.” 

Categories: Politics