Union of BC Municipalities – Sept. 23-27
Two thousand politicians and lobbyists in a giant conference centre makes for a strange petri dish with lots of street theatre, including the logging truck driveby and the Chinese reception protest. Parts of the conference I found very useful, including workshops, the trade show, and meetings with provincial Ministers and staff. I came away with a fistfull of business cards and pages of notes.
Team Sunshine Coast worked together well. Close to 20 of us crowded into a meeting with Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, including SCRD, Gibsons and Sechelt councillors, and our MLA.
Meetings with Ministers are only 15 minutes, so the limit is three topics. For MOTI, our topics were Highway 101 safety, ferry service, and foot passenger ferry service. We urged Minister Trevena to lower the speed limit on Hwy 101 between Henry and Lower Road to 60 km and install a crosswalk at Oceanview Drive. We also asked for an annual meeting between local MOTI staff and local government to discuss workplans and priorities. Trevena said that request was “easy.”
MOTI staff are in the middle of a “corridor review” of Highway 101. Results are expected to be released after Christmas.
For FLNRORD (Forest, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development) we talked about fast-tracking community water licenses so we can get new wells and reservoirs online as soon as possible, collaborating with the province on land use planning, and getting more provincial funding for recreation sites and trails. In a later meeting with senior ministry staff we got into Block 1313 (Reed Road Forest), and I assured them that there is a solution to our impasse, although it may not be precisely the one that BC Timber Sales has in mind.
The UBCM plenary session, where we voted on close to 300 resolutions, was extremely well organized. I was pleased to see a number of resolutions passed, including one to lower the provincial voting age to 16. I have long believed that we should educate young people on local government, and that high school students should be able to vote for the school board. The average 16 year old knows a lot more about the current state of education than the average 60 year old.
I finished my week in Vancouver by attending the Climate Strike at City Hall with 100,000 other people, many of them young. Seeing the mass of marchers cross Cambie Bridge was awe inspiring. My favourite sign: “Governments – Do your Homework, Clean Your Room.”