Executive Meeting Highlights

With over 20 provincial government meetings, UBCM Executive members were kept busy over April 2-4 in Victoria. The spring meeting provided an excellent opportunity to undertake extensive government outreach on UBCM's policy priority - the Strong Fiscal Futures report that was adopted at the 2013 Convention.

Highlights of the April 4th Executive meeting include:

  • reviewed a report highlighting the work undertaken by the recently established AVICC/UBCM Special Committee on BC Ferries and endorsed the continuance of the Special Committee to undertake additional work in identifying the socio-economic impacts associated with increased ferry fares and service reductions.
  • reviewed the provincial discussion paper on Campaign Expense Limits and advised of its support for a provincially mandated approach to setting expense limits.
  • approved legal funding assistance in the appeal of Newcomb vs. District of West Kelowna regarding it authority to remove moored houseboats from its foreshore based on a breach of zoning regulations.
  • received a report on UBCM's activities in FCM International Programs including a recent mission to Vietnam by President Martin and UBCM staff.
  • received a number of member letters indicating support for FCM's call for an affordable, long-term housing plan.
  • received a report on provincial legislation introduced this session of interest to local governments. UBCM members will likely be interested in the changes proposed in Bill 24 – Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act; Bill 21 – Local Elections Statutes Amendment Act; Bill 20 – Local Elections Campaign Financing Act; Bill 18 – Water Sustainability Act; land use planning and development matters addressed in Bill 17 – Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act; Bill 15 – Liquor Control & Licensing Amendment Act; Bill 13 – Off Road Vehicle Act; and Bill 8 – Budget Measures Implementation Act.
  • approved external appointments to:
    • BC Provincial Committee on Rail Safety Public Outreach – Councillor Sav Dhaliwal, First VP, UBCM;
    • ERASE (Provincial Anti-Bullying Committee) – Mayor Mary Sjostrom, UBCM Past President; and
    • Roundtable on Environment and the Economy – Gary MacIsaac, UBCM Executive Director
  • directed that nominations be sought for two working groups of the BC Road Safety Strategy Committee and three appointments to the Police Structure and Funding Expert Committee
  • received a report on MMBC and the packaging and printed paper product stewardship program, which included an update on the status of the program uptake, the meeting with Minister Mary Polak, the ‘rethinkit' industry campaign, and discussions with the Province on transitional monitoring
  • received a report on the provincial responses to UBCM's 2013 Convention resolutions and, based on analysis of the responses, set advocacy priorities and strategized follow-up on specific resolutions
  • received an update on the newly announced Building Canada Program and UBCM's response to a request for feedback on various program elements, in which concerns were expressed about a lack of funding dedicated to local governments, changes to the stacking rules, and removal of several project categories eligible under the current BCF.
  • received an report on the Agricultural Land Commission Amendments that had come forward and determined that UBCM indicate to the Province that it is interested in working with the Ministry of Agriculture, the ALC and the agricultural industry in developing new regulations to ensure the preservation of farmland and help the farming community. President Rhona Martin will also write to Minister Pimm to express concern with lack of consultation prior to the introduction of Bill 24.
  • received a report outlining AVICC concerns with respect to the impact of privately managed forest land activities on watersheds and will be asking the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to engage directly with the AVICC on this matter.
  • received correspondence from Parksville, Port McNeill, Elkford and Fernie urging UBCM's continued advocacy to the provincial and federal government to update or replace the provincial emergency notification system (PENS) with a better system.
  • received a report on the feedback and ratings for the very well-received Electoral Area Directors Forum held on February 4-5.
  • received correspondence from the Regional District of Central Kootenay providing a critique of the Best Practices Guidelines for Approving new Small Water Systems.
  • received a report on the recommendations coming forward from the Liquor Policy review and will be following up with an offer to work with the Province to streamline the liquor application process and to identify potential impacts of the proposed changes on local government.
  • received a status and action report on a variety of policy areas that continue to be monitored by UBCM including; introduction of new Off Road Vehicle Act; Natural Resource Roads Act project; Derelict Vessels; BC Transit Independent Review working group; Community/Rail Proximity Initiative; National Municipal Rail Safety working group; Assessment Appeals on Special Use Properties; Aggregate Resource Management; Canadian Prostitution Laws; Care Home Sprinkler Safety; Federal Additions to Reserve; Independent Panel on Internet Voting.
  • received the financial report for the period ending February 28, 2014.
  • received a delegation from provincial trade policy staff on international trade matters including the recently reached Agreement in Principle by Canada and the European Union on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
  • received a delegation from the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, the Honourable Coralee Oakes and staff, at which the following were discussed: timing and other considerations related to election expense limits; considerations related to the Ministry's engagement in discussions on UBCM's Strong Fiscal Futures report; and recent discussions between the federal and provincial governments on details of delivery mechanisms under the proposed renewed Gas Tax Agreement.

Highlights of the April 3rd Committee meetings:

Presidents

The Committee received reports on staffing, member services and group benefits programs, financials and approved the new focus on accessibility and inclusiveness in the Leadership and Innovation category for the 2014 Excellence Awards program. Members reviewed next steps with respect to updating the Executive Policies; discussed a number of intergovernmental relations matters including: the advocacy plan on Strong Fiscal Futures, capping of industrial tax rates, Building Canada Fund and Province's discussion paper on expense limits. A report outlining potential candidates interested in serving on the MMBC Committee was considered and a recommendation will be coming forward from the Committee in the near future.

A delegation from CIVIX (an organization that promotes the Student Vote program in schools) was received. The organization was seeking UBCM support for expanding their initiative to local government elections in November 2014. UBCM agreed to lend its support to the initiative.

Convention

Convention planning is well underway, with the Committee providing direction on a variety of Convention elements, such as the 2014 Convention budget and associated registration fees, banquet entertainment, catering plans, and partners programs. Committee members also discussed preliminary plans for pre-conference forums, cabinet panels and resolutions time allocations. The session proposal process was reviewed, with the Committee making final program determinations in July.

Environment Committee

The Environment Committee met with the Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of Environment. The meeting with the Minister focused on the Packaging and Printed Paper Stewardship program, Climate Action, and Land Based Spill Preparedness and Response. In the meeting with Minister Polak a quick presentation was made regarding the Strong Fiscal Futures report and recommendations. Prior to the meeting with Minister Polak, the Committee met to discuss ongoing and emerging issues which included Environmental Assessments, Recycling Stewardship, Climate Action and Small Water Systems.

A number of recommendations for the Executive came from the meeting including follow up with the Minister of Environment regarding proposed changes to the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), educational opportunities for the UBCM membership regarding changes to the EAO, and a recommitment of local and provincial mandates to Climate Action.

Community Economic Development

The Committee received information on the status of the Rural BC Project; UBCM/AVICC Special Committee on BC Ferries; economic development news from the Community Development Institute and highlights from the BC Association of Mineral Exploration conference. The Committee reviewed DFO's draft Integrated Geoduck Management Framework and will respond in keeping with existing UBCM policy and considered correspondence from the Ministry of Natural Gas Development on its proposed Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Regulatory Framework. With respect to the latter the Committee will be requesting that additional information be provided by the Ministry to assist communities in better understanding the implications of the CCS process.

Following a delegation from John Cook, Export Policy Forester with the Province to discuss log export policy, the Committee decided to refer back to the sponsor referred resolution 2013 – B143 on log export policy since the complexity of the issue warranted the sponsor re-crafting and resubmitting a resolution for 2014.

On April 3rd, Committee members met with the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, Shirley Bond and discussed:

- status of the Rural BC Project;

- tourism initiatives of interest to communities and the highlighted concerns over recent announced cuts in service and fare increases and BC Ferries and the impact that would have on BC tourism;

- various jobs and skills training projects that are underway by her ministry to support and retrain displaced workers and take advantage of new opportunities in other emerging sectors; including expansion of apprenticeships; and

- the Strong Fiscal Futures report as a UBCM priority with the Province.

Healthy Communities

The Healthy Communities Committee met with two delegations of the provincial government: the Honourable Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development, and with MLA Donna Barnett, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development, and MLA Moira Stilwell. The meeting with Minister Cadieux focused on the summary report of the Regional Community Poverty Reduction Strategy and UBCM's review of the report, as well as a presentation on the Strong Fiscal Futures. The meeting with MLA Barnett and MLA Stilwell focused on rural and remote health care, including the Province's proposed workload thresholds for maternal and surgical care and the changes to emergency health response as an outcome of the Emergency Health Resource Allocation Plan (RAP).

The Healthy Communities Committee also met to discuss ongoing and emerging issues including remote and rural community health, child poverty, correspondence regarding RAP, and ongoing provincial initiatives (Healthy Eating Strategy, Healthy Activity Strategy and Healthy Families BC – Communities). The Committee made recommendations to the Executive regarding rural and remote health care, Rural Perinatal and Surgical Services Planning, a statement on e-cigarettes, and the RAP program.

Community Safety

The Community Safety Committee met with the Blue Ribbon Panel on Crime Reduction and with the Honourable Suzanne Anton, Minister of Attorney General and Justice. In follow-up to the meeting with the Blue Ribbon Panel, the Committee made recommendations to the Executive to write to the panel outlining UBCM's policy position on crime reduction. The meeting with Minister Anton focused on liquor policy review, community courts, policing costs and emergency management. The Committee also received reports on ongoing and emerging issues, including an evaluation of community courts, an update on medical marihuana, and a justice legislation update.

First Nations Relations Committee

The report “First Nation Taxation, Services And Economic Development in British Columbia”, commissioned by the First Nations Tax Commission and UBCM, was a primary topic of discussion for Committee members who supported undertaking a review of the work. They also received updates on the federal Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, as well as joint projects currently underway with the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. Joint projects include a potential Strategic Engagement Agreement pilot project, and the inaugural meeting of a joint staff working group. Committee members also heard updates on federal funding for the Regional Community to Community Forum and ongoing reconciliation activities, and recommended pursuing a Monday UBCM pre-conference session regarding First Nations relations. Several correspondence and information items were received for information.

On April 2nd, the Committee also had an opportunity to meet with Honourable John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, to discuss ongoing reconciliation efforts, the work of the joint staff working group, and the Strong Fiscal Futures report.

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