Message sent at municipal conference

Invermere makes progress on urban deer and community forest at UBCM

The Columbia Valley made some progress on long-standing issues like urban deer and backcountry management at last week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Vancouver.

On Thursday, September 19th, Invermere had a productive meeting with Premier Christy Clark and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) minister Steve Thompson, and were able to make some progress on the urban deer issue. Along with other communities including Cranbrook, Kimberley and Penticton, Invermere will be involved in a UBCM committee that will work directly with the FLNRO ministry to look at management options like hazing, sterilization and culling.

The Columbia Valley Recreational Access Council was also brought to the minister’s attention, with an assistant deputy minister promising to talk with the ministry’s regional manager in Cranbrook about whether to have government staff return to sitting in on the meetings, aimed at creating a recreation access plan for the valley.

Of the 156 resolutions brought to the convention, none created more buzz than a unanimous call for the province to spend 90 more days working on the details of Multi-Material B.C., a new industry-run recycling regime that’s created headaches for municipalities.

Columbia Valley politicians were among the unanimous backers of the resolution, which the municipalities made because they fear degraded recycling services depending on how the new system rolls out.

Thursday’s vote came as MMBC claimed 85 per cent of B.C. cities with curbside pickup have accepted its offer to run the service for payment.

It said five per cent declined by the September 16th deadline, while 10 per cent — including the Regional District of East Kootenay — will opt out and keep providing recycling pick up without any MMBC payment.

Delegates also endorsed having local elections every four years, to match up with provincial votes. The resolution to extend terms of office from three years to four was supported by 60 per cent of voting delegates, who want the B.C. government to make the change in time for municipal elections in November 2014. Some elected officials from rural B.C. were against the move, as it poses the risk of making fewer people want to commit to running for council in small towns.

Highways around Invermere could see improvements after the district met with Transportation Minister Todd Stone and discussed returning a stretch of road in Athalmer to provincial control. The section of road running between the Athalmer Bridge and the bridge over Toby Creek on Panorama Drive was given to Invermere several years ago, but the district is now looking for the province to re-assume responsibility for it.

There is one dangerous S-curve on Panorama Drive, said Mayor Gerry Taft, that the district would like to see improved. The ministry was also receptive to Invermere’s request for more Highway 93/95 signage indicating distances to Invermere, said Mayor Taft.

Regional District of East Kootenay also discussed this summer’s flooding in the Elk Valley during a meeting with Minister Thompson, and had a brief chance to discuss the Headwaters Community Forest proposal for the Columbia Valley.

The regional district’s resolution asking that Emergency Social Services be made available to out-of-province non-resident visitors and second home owners was successful, meaning Albertans would be able to access the services should there be another flood at a tourism destination within the valley.

Conference delegates also passed a resolution asking the province “to legislate the prohibition of importing, exporting and growing plants and seeds containing genetically engineered DNA, and raising GE animals within BC, and to declare, through legislation, that BC is a GE Free area in respect to all plant and animal species.”

There are 14 B.C. municipalities that have already declared themselves GE Free Zones.

– With files from Tom Fletcher

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