Meetings with Four Ministers Highlight UBCM Executive Meeting

The UBCM Executive took their January board meeting on the road to Victoria last week. Among the many highlights from the sessions were meetings with Ministers Bennett, Lake, Chong, and Cadieux.

A separate report on the meeting with Minister Bennett will be reported out in the February 6th edition of The Compass.

Highlights of the January 25th Executive meeting include:

•  received a report from the Select Committee on Local Government Finance from their January 23rd meeting where discussions included a review of potential revenue options for local governments and outreach to the membership by attending the spring Area Association meetings.
•  appointed Mayor Peter Milobar, Kamloops to the PRIMEBC Board of Directors and appointed Mayor Taylor Bachrach, Town of Smithers and Carol Mason, CAO Metro Vancouver to the Select Committee on Local Government Finance.
•  appointed the following individuals to the new Wireless Levy Committee:  Jim Martin, CAO, Fraser-Fort George RD; Paul Macklem, Interim CAO, Central Okanagan RD; Siri Bertelsen, Director of Regional Programs, Fraser Valley RD; Al Kenning, CAO, City of Nanaimo;  Bob Lapham, General Manager of Planning and Protective Services, Capital RD and Carol Mason, Commissioner /CAO, Metro Vancouver.  The Committee is providing advice to the Minister of Justice on development of legislation whereby a levy on wireless users would be collected to contribute to the costs of 911 emergency services.
•  received a report on diking policy in BC and directed staff to undertake further research and report back on the historical context and parties involved in diking; and determine the advocacy efforts of other organizations, including FCM, in order to better define the scope of the problem and potential action for UBCM.
•  received a report on the work underway to amend local government elections legislation, noting the complexities associated with developing a campaign expense formula suitable for all elected officials.
•  directed staff to report back on the extent of cutbacks in Greyhound bus services throughout BC,  identify possible solutions and determine what role UBCM might be able to play in assisting impacted communities.
•  reported on action taken by the Presidents Committee in early January to write to the Honourable Vic Toews, Public Safety Minister, expressing UBCM disappointment about the lack of consultation with the contract partners on the federal government's decision to eliminate severance pay to retiring federal employees and expand the benefits to RCMP members.
•  received a delegation from the Auditor General for Local Government on January 23rd.  Ms. Basia Ruta discussed her new role and the Executive had an opportunity to ask questions related to the scope of her work; development of her first service plan; and potential activities including her first performance audit which will be identified by April 30th.  Ms. Ruta also invited UBCM representatives to attend workshops she is hosting to receive feedback in advance of developing her first service plan and to provide advice on detailed processes.

Highlights of the January 24th Committee meetings include:

Presidents

Charged with development of the UBCM's 2013 Provincial Election Advocacy Strategy, the Presidents Committee presented the draft Strategy's primary objectives, policy platform priorities and framework for Executive approval.  Further details on the Strategy will be announced in the coming weeks.  The Committee approved the launch of the Member Satisfaction in February - watch for the link to log in and tell us your thoughts about how UBCM is doing!  Amendments will be made to the Executive policies to extend complimentary convention registration fees to those Life Members still serving in elected office on the same basis as those Life Members ‘out of office'.

Community Economic Development Committee

UBCM will be responding positively to an invitation from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to participate in its Aquaculture Management Advisory Committee.  With respect to Bill C38, Fisheries Act amendments, Committee members will be requesting that DFO advise UBCM when consultations will occur on the development of accompanying regulations so local governments will have an opportunity to provide feedback.  As well, Committee members will be advocating for internet connectivity to those small communities that presently do not meet the business case scenarios for broadband access.  A delegation from the Community Development Institute (CDI) at UNBC met with the Committee and discussed their work in promoting ‘place-based' development and how communities can ‘re-position' themselves in this time of global economic change.    

Community Safety

Changes to the new “Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation” proposed by Health Canada are one of the key requests coming from the Community Safety Committee.  UBCM wants to ensure that community safety concerns are addressed and local government bylaws are respected. Health Canada will be asked to not authorize any commercial business operation to produce medical marihuana until it receives notification that it meets local government safety bylaws and land use requirements.

Committee members met with the Commissioner of Fire and Emergency Management Becky Denlinger to discuss fire and emergency management issues.  Members were informed that a registry of fire departments was being created and that the Fire Services Advisory Committee would be established shortly.  The Committee was also told that the Province had received assurances from the federal government that the Department of National Defence would not be charging either the Province or BC local governments for emergency services.

Healthy Communities Committee

The Honourable Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development, met with the Committee to discuss the Regional Community Poverty Reduction Strategy.  As one of the key stakeholders, UBCM supported holding a meeting to review the successes and challenges of the strategy.  An update on the Healthy Families BC Communities initiative was received and the Committee will provide its feedback to the Ministry of Health on the draft public Health Plan and request an opportunity for local governments to provide ongoing feedback into the implementation of the plan.

Environment Committee

The Honourable Terry Lake, Minister of Environment, discussed the Land Based Spill Preparedness and Response intentions paper with Committee members.  Updates were received on UBCM Packaging and Printed Paper Local Government Working Group and the Province's brownfields initiative.  Plans are also underway for a full day Environment session at the 2013 UBCM Convention.  Members reviewed staff comments on the Phase 2 Tsunami Debris Management Plan; and agreed to continue participating on the Tsunami Debris Coordination Committee and monitor the impact of tsunami debris on coastal local governments.  As well a letter has been sent to Health Minister MacDiarmid expressing concerns about the lack of progress on addressing UBCM member concerns around small water systems.

First Nations

With funding concerns, federal legislative issues, and a Minister meeting on the agenda, the First Nations Relations Committee had a productive first meeting of the New Year. Discussions surrounded further advocacy work on behalf of members on the Additions to Reserve (ATR) process, response strategies to federal funding concerns for the Regional C2C forum program, and local government considerations regarding Bill S-8: The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act. The meeting with Hon. Ida Chong, Minister of Aboriginal Rights and Reconciliation, included executive members from MARR and the Ministry of Health, and saw discussion around the 2012 MOU on New Relationship, 2012 resolutions responses, negotiations related to halted development at Cəsnaʔəm (Marpole Midden site), Bill S-8, and the future of the Regional C2C program.

Convention

Preliminary 2013 programming allocations were considered by the Convention Committee, who selected “Navigating the Local Landscape” as this year's theme. This theme will build on the success of UBCM's new e-newsletter, The Compass, and point to the Convention as a means to navigate local government issues. The Committee reviewed 2012 sponsorship and financial reports, which indicated a modest surplus. The preliminary budget, fees and sponsorship goals for the 2013 Convention were also approved, with registration fees being kept at 2012 levels. Staff will provide additional information at the April meeting regarding dance band and comedian options, delegate bag preferences, and catering menus.

Resolutions

The Resolutions Committee met and discussed its Terms of Reference and the timeline for the 2013 resolutions process.  This being their first meeting since the 2012 Convention, members reviewed delegate feedback and Committee experiences from the 2012 policy sessions and suggested improvements for 2013. The Committee also considered correspondence from the Association of Kootenay & Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) regarding the prioritization of resolutions submitted to UBCM.

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