Local officials head to UBCM convention in Whistler

The annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) meeting is on this week in Whistler.

The annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) meeting is on this week in Whistler, and all local Columbia Valley mayors and Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) directors will be attending the meeting, as well as some of the valley’s councillors, where they will have the opportunity for one-on-one meetings with provincial ministers.

“These (minister) meetings are 15 minutes long, and are much like speed dating. While they are great opportunities to touch base with the ministers about  local issues, there is not a lot of time, so we tend to get straight to the point in our meetings and requests,” said RDEK Area F director Wendy Booth.

Ms. Booth and RDEK director Rob Gay will meet with Environment Minister Mary Polak to talk about the new Multi-Materials British Columbia program, explaining the lack of service in the East Kootenay region for paper and packaging under the new program and asking what the ministry intends to do to fill the gap in service levels for rural B.C.

“In this case, the intent is to bring the issue to the minister (Ms. Polak) and hope that in the future we will get a level of service that is acceptable,” said Ms. Booth.

Ms. Booth and Mr. Gay will also meet with Minster of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson about the Windermere Creek problems, explaining the sedimentation and flooding issues, and how the level of interest in the community in these issues is growing, as well as requesting support for a future application that may be submitted if a funding program for the problem becomes available.

“Minister Thompson is aware of the situation with Windermere Creek, the purpose of the meeting is to update the minister on the current status and increased awareness of the situation from the residents and property owners in Windermere,” said Ms. Booth.

Mr. Gay and Ms. Booth will have another meeting with Ms. Polak, along with Canal Flats mayor Ute Juras, this time to talk about access to Columbia Lake, seeking an update on creation of proper public access at the north end of the lake by the provincial park.

“The minister (Ms. Polak) has previously been aware of the situation with Columbia Lake access. The intent here is to get an update on the current proposed upgrades and how the communities’ values are being considered in those upgrades,” said Ms. Booth. “This is important to the community of Fairmont. B.C. Parks held an open house earlier this year and since then we have not heard how the feedback received from the communities will be incorporated into the proposed upgrades.”

RDEK area G director Gerry Wilkie, Mr. Gay and RDEK area E director Jane Walter will meet with Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick to try to learn more about the review of Agriculture Land Reservere (ALR) lands in the East Kootenay.

Ms. Booth said she’s also looking forward to attending several regular session during the UBCM including ones on the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) amending regulations,  an update on the Rural B.C. Project, and the Electoral Area Directors Forum.

The UBCM meeting runs from September 22nd to September 26th.