Here we come a-conferencing…
So, what’s it like when a thousand locally elected officials, senior staff, and provincial staff descend upon a conference centre for a week for the Union of BC Municipalities annual conference?
Intense! Sessions start at 7:30 am and run until 5, then there’s a round of receptions, dinners, meet-ups, and more receptions. There are informational workshops, tours, speeches from the premier and other luminaries, annual elections for table officers, and plenary sessions to pass resolutions. And a constant buzz of schmoozing and networking.
Then there are the all important cabinet minister meetings! Local governments can set up meetings with cabinet ministers or senior staff, mostly in provincial ministries, but with a sprinkling of other agencies including the RCMP and BC Hydro.
Team Sunshine Coast set up nine meetings to advocate for local issues and concerns, five of which I attended. Our delegation was made up of electeds and senior staff from the Town of Gibsons, District of Sechelt and SCRD, plus our MLA, Nicholas Simons. Meetings I attended:
- Protecting Gibsons/SCRD Aquifer Recharge Areas to ensure sustainable drinking water supply for the coast – Forestry Minister Conroy
- District Lot 1313 – requesting a Sponsored Crown Grant – Land, Water & Resource Stewardship Minister Josie Osborne
- Stormwater Management, Orphan Infrastructure, and Coordination/Communication with Local Governments – Meeting with MOTI Senior staff
- Communication/Consultation with Local Government by the province – Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Murray Rankin, and LWRS Minister Josie Osborne
- Increasing maximum bylaw fines and giving regional districts tools to ensure compliance. Senior Staff from the Attorney General’s Ministry.
Other meetings I didn’t attend were on RCMP staffing, Long Term Senior Care Planning, Mental Health & Addictions support, and BC Ferries contract renewal.
We also put a number of resolutions forward, asking for support from UBCM to lobby the province. Some of these resolutions were voted through as a large block; others were debated individually. For more information on the resolutions, you can look them up by number in the Resolutions book. And to find out whether they passed, check the summary of the session.
I do have to say that it’s an interesting experience to stand at a mike in a huge hall (think four times the size of the Elphie school gym), seeing yourself projected on two giant screens at the front of the room.
- EB57 Accessing Vehicular Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data
- EB63 Stormwater Management
- NEB3 Hybrid UBCM Conferences
- NR11 Enforcement Tools for Short-Term Rentals
- NR22 Standardize Health and Safety Rules and Regulations to Facilitate Year-Round Housing in RVs
- NR54 Shift to Non-Fuel-Based User-Pay Taxation Mechanisms to Fund Road Infrastructure in Rural Areas of BC
- EB21 Hospice Services
- EB45 Local Government Incentives for Climate Change Resiliency
- NR30 Cannabis Controls and Communications with Local Government
One resolution of mine was denied without debate. It was to move UBCM into a hybrid format so that ALL local electeds in BC can participate, whether or not they are able to take a week off their lives to attend an in person conference. It’s no surprise that a group comprised 100% of people who can afford to go to Whistler would vote down this motion, but I’m not letting the matter lie there. UBCM will be hearing from me again.
As always, I had learned a lot and made some good contacts. And as always, I left in a blur of exhaustion, ready to hibernate.