I was in Creston last week for the yearly conference of the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments, which is comprised of the Electoral Area Directors from the Regional Districts of East Kootenay, Central Kootenay, and Kootenay Boundary, and the mayors and councillors of all the municipalities within these Regional Districts.
The conference has a reputation for educational seminars for elected officials and good resolutions related to improving provincial government policy and legislation.
Often these resolutions get lost in the labyrinth of Victoria, or take ages to be instituted, but they do have impact in that they represent the views of the people of the region. Two resolutions stand out this year.
The City of Nelson presented a relatively polite resolution critical of the recent proposed changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve, and this was quickly amended to demand that the government go no further with any changes to the Agricultural Land Commission Act without consulting the regions and the agricultural industry. The resolution went through nearly unanimously. Following its December 2013 meeting, the board of directors of the Regional District of East Kootenay sent a letter to the Premier, the Minister of Agriculture, and the Minister Responsible for Core Review asking for clarification of proposed changes to the Agricultural Land Commission and for the opportunity for consultation. We have had no acknowledgement or reply to our letter.
The second resolution presented by the District of Invermere was amended to state that the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments inform the government of B.C. that they are strongly opposed to funding any municipalities in which there are no residents. Again, this resolution passed nearly unanimously. Clearly the members of the association were upset that Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality, which has no residents, and whose unelected council meetings average fourteen minutes in length, have been granted one million dollars over the next five years to sustain a dream. Many councillors and directors would love to get even a small portion of that grant money.
One of the best sessions, in my opinion, was a discussion around the safety of railway operations. We are fortunate in our region not to have as much of the dangerous goods traffic that goes through other areas. I was impressed with the presentation by CP Rail on their operational safety and emergency response programs.
Throughout the conference, we sampled local foods produced in the Creston Valley: wines, fruit juices, cheese, breads and honey, dairy and meats. Obviously this local food production is an important part of the way of life in the Creston region, just as it will be here in the Columbia Valley as we welcome the opportunities to supply the increasing demand for locally grown food.
Gerry Wilkie is the Regional District of East Kootenay director for Area G, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .