Reginal Rundown: UBCM gives local government a voice

looking forward to the Union of BC Municipalities Annual Convention in Vancouver which will be held the third week of September.

I am looking forward to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Annual Convention in Vancouver which will be held the third week of September.

Elected officials from all the municipalities and regional districts in B.C. are invited to the convention and, because of the large number of delegates who participate, the convention is generally held in Vancouver or other larger centres.

The UBCM Convention is an important event for local governments because they can meet face to face with Cabinet Ministers and senior government staff who are there to listen to local issues and concerns.

In addition, all delegates have the opportunity to discuss and vote on a large number of resolutions that are sent on to the provincial government for consideration.

These resolutions are vetted by the UBCM Resolutions Committee and generally call for government action on matters of provincial or regional significance.

I find the debate and discussion during these sessions (which is often intense) of great interest because every mayor, councillor and regional district director in the province can be involved in shaping provincial policy through their votes on the resolutions.

Aside from the business side of the Convention, there is also a wonderful opportunity to network and exchange views with the delegates from around the province.

This year, the Convention’s theme is “Excellence in Action” and there will be many examples for elected officials to learn from as we look for new ways to maximize the value to taxpayers in the services and programs we provide.

An important forum for me will be a general discussion of our relationship with the First Nations in B.C., including: treaty negotiations, agreements, and especially reconciliation. Representatives of First Nations, and of federal, provincial and local governments, who have been working on this issue will discuss the importance of reconciliation and building relationships.

The Regional District of East Kootenay Directors (RDEK) are looking forward to hosting regional community-to-community forums later in the year with the Ktunaxa Nation and Shuswap Band in the interest of building our relationships and working together more effectively in the East Kootenay.

I’m also attending a forum on Backcountry Access Management. An overview of the recent Off-Road Vehicle Act, Natural Resource Roads (commonly known as Forestry Roads), legislation and implementation of a Provincial Trails Strategy will all be discussed. These issues are of particular concern in the Columbia Valley because, unlike other regions in the RDEK, we have no Access Management Plan and the intensity of outdoor recreation pursuits on the land base is ever-increasing.

The Convention is managed by the remarkable staff at the UBCM who work with the executive (made up of elected officials from all over the province including Invermere mayor Gerry Taft and Area F director Wendy Booth) to advance policies coming out of the Convention to the provincial government.

Gerry Wilkie is the Regional District of East Kootenay director for Area G, and can be reached at gdwilkie@cyberlink.bc.ca.

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