Elections Expense Limits, Compensation Highlight Executive Meeting

UBCM Executive held its quarterly meeting February 12-13, 2015 in Richmond.  The Executive provided direction on a variety of policy matters, including the need for a submission by UBCM to the Special Committee on Local Elections Expense limits; a commitment to work with the province on the issue of local government compensation; and a decision to maintain UBCM’s current Convention resolutions process.

President Dhaliwal commenced the meeting by welcoming four newly appointed Executive members:

  • Chair Jim Abram, Strathcona RD, Director at Large
  • Mayor Wayne Baldwin, White Rock, Metro Vancouver Representative
  • Mayor Nils Jensen, Oak Bay, Director at Large
  • Councillor Alison Morse, Bowen Island, Vancouver Metro Area Representative

Highlights of the plenary meeting include:

  • received the President’s report noting his participation at the series of Local Government Leadership Academy elected officials seminars.
  • confirmed that UBCM would make a presentation/submission to the Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits as part of its Phase 2 deliberations on setting expense limits in the coming months.
  • received a report on new and amended legislation and policy put forward by the Province in the last House sitting including: Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act; Miscellaneous Statutes Act (No.2) [related to policing services]; Liquefied Natural Gas Income Tax Act; Nisga’a Final Agreement Amendment Act (property taxation authority); Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act.
  • received a status and action report on a variety of policy areas that continue to be monitored by UBCM including: implementation of new Off Road Vehicle Act; Natural Resource Roads Act project; problem vessels; Assessment Appeals: Special Use Properties; Aggregate Resource Management; and Rail Proximity and Rail Safety.
  • received a status report on work underway to address the issue of joint and several liability.
  • received the financial report for the period ending December 31, 2014.
  • received reports on Victoria Operations including status of various Local Government Program Services and the launch of new round of applications to the federal Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund.
  • received correspondence from the Municipal Pension Board of Trustees providing an update on the Municipal Pension Plan Highlights for 2014.
  • received a delegation from Dr. Granger Avery of the Rural Coordinating Center of BC (RCCBC).  Dr. Avery provided information on the shortage of health professionals in BC, particularly in rural areas of the province; RCCBC initiatives such as the Provincial Privileging Project, the “GP for me” program and the “Sustainable Communities” project; and addressed the need for more generalists in medicine.

Recommendations of UBCM Executive Committees as endorsed by Executive are as follows:

Presidents Committee

The Committee provided direction on reviewing the issue of local government compensation with the Province, following on the release of the Ernst and Young report on public sector compensation prior to the 2014 Convention.  The Committee directed UBCM staff to work with the Province to develop a draft terms of reference to address local government compensation, with a focus on data collection, benchmarking, and best practices.  The draft terms of reference will be considered by Presidents Committee at a future meeting.

The Committee also provided direction on an advocacy strategy for the April Executive meeting in Victoria; setting a date for the September 2018 UBCM Convention and work underway by the Municipal Pension Plan (MPP) Partners on the MPP.  Committee members confirmed appointments to the Local Government RCMP Contract Management Committee and two appointments – Mayor Derek Corrigan (Burnaby) and David Stuart (North Vancouver District) - to the PRIME Corp Board.  The Committee also considered routine business related to member services and group benefits programs, Excellence Awards programming and financial and administrative matters. 

Direction was also provided on three referred resolutions from the 2014 Convention:

  • in response to referred resolution 2014-B83 Establishing a Youth Caucus, a survey of members will be conducted on youth engagement efforts to determine how local governments support youth at local levels; action
  • will take no action on resolution 2014-B8; UBCM Committees.
  • will not establish a new Committee on Arts, Culture and Heritage in response to resolution 2014-B86; Standing Committee on Arts, Culture and Heritage, but will be investigating how best to incorporate these matters into the terms of reference for existing committees.

Resolutions Committee

The Resolutions Committee met and discussed its Terms of Reference and the timeline for the 2015 resolutions process. Committee members reviewed delegate feedback and Committee experiences and suggested improvements for 2015, including a discussion of Resolution 2014-B85 concerning the handling of resolutions.  The Presidents Committee joined with the Resolutions Committee to consider this resolution.

The Committee discussed the number of resolutions admitted for debate; screening of resolution topics, to ensure that the issues raised are of concern to local governments; use of the electronic voting system; and scheduling conflicts between policy sessions and ministers’ meetings. The Committee also affirmed the need for the resolutions process to continue to allow for the discussion of a broad range of public policy issues.  In light of this need, the Committee recommended that no significant changes be undertaken to the resolution process for the 2015 Convention.

The committee did, however, recommend improvements to communication with UBCM members, as well as increased frequency of communication, regarding the resolutions process. The Committee also agreed to undertake several small changes to improve the flow of debate. Staff was asked to investigate the development of guidelines for determining the relevance of particular issues or resolutions to the local government context.

Convention Committee

The Committee completed its assessment of the 2014 Convention, reviewing the Sponsorship Final Report and December 31, 2014 financial statements. The basic program format for this year’s Convention was discussed, including consideration of timing for plenary addresses, the 2015 theme and keynote speaker options. The Committee will be finalizing the 2015 theme and keynote speaker in the coming weeks. A preliminary discussion was had on banquet entertainment options, with a final decision expected in April.

The Committee also approved the following updates to the Registration Refund Policy:

  • That the time period for full refunds be reduced from approximately two weeks prior to convention to six weeks prior to the start of convention.
  • That UBCM permit a partial refund of 50% up to four weeks prior to convention.
  • That refunds will not be permitted after four weeks prior to convention.
  • That UBCM provides exceptions to the refund policy for any medical or extenuating circumstances.

Community Safety Committee

The Committee reviewed its priorities for the upcoming year.  Key areas are:

  • agreed to look at the growing mental health issues that policing services face in local communities and to write the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice to request increased financial resources to help address the problem.
  • identified the need for increased consultation with local government on policing issues by the Federal and Provincial government.
  • agreed to look at the impact of the new rules for the delivery of fire services on rural areas.

The Committee also agreed to continue to monitor and provide input into:

  • Blue Ribbon Panel report on Crime Reduction;
  • BC Policing Plan – report on policing responsibilities at the federal, provincial and municipal level which will be released later in the year;
  • implementation of RCMP contract;
  • implementation of new liquor policy and legislation as the new policy is developed; and
  • implementation of federal Medical Marihuana regulations by Health Canada and the pending court ruling on this issue.

The Committee is looking to arrange meetings with a number of Cabinet Ministers in April when it meets in Victoria.

Community Economic Development Committee

The Committee discussed the appointment process for the Province’s new Rural Advisory Council; considered potential opportunities for Minister meetings as part of the April Executive meeting in Victoria; and reviewed UBCM’s submission to the BC Ferries Commissioner in response to his role in setting the price caps for the next performance term.

Correspondence was received from Forests Minister Steve Thomson, confirming the appointment of Councillor Brian Frenkel as UBCM’s representative to the Advisory Council on Forest and Range Practices.  Direction was provided on referred resolution 2014-B133 Strengthening Telecommunications Infrastructure and direct representation on the Provincial Trails Strategy Advisory Council was declined at this time.  A delegation was received from Russ Cameron, President of the Independent Wood Processors Association regarding the challenges facing the value-added, secondary manufacturers of wood products.

Healthy Communities Committee

The Committee received two delegations. The first was from the Doctors of BC to discuss physician recruitment and retention, and the upcoming Summit on March 5th. The second delegation was with MLA Jackie Tegart to discuss the Community Poverty Reduction Strategy. Direction was also provided on the request from the BC Emergency Health Services for representation on the Community Paramedicine Advisory Committee. Reports and information were received on the Healthy Families BC Communities initiative; Local Government Program Services; the City of Vancouver’s Mental Health Strategy; and the Rural Maternity/Surgical Collaboration.

First Nations Committee

The First Nations Relations Committee received one delegation from Marissa Lawrence, Reconciliation Canada Director of Community Engagement. An update on the Reconciliation Dialogue Workshop Series was provided, including the first workshop, which took place in Merritt on February 2, 2015. Also received were updates on the LGPS Grant Programs, the pending Hwlitsum First Nation civil lawsuit, the Nisga’a Final Agreement Amendment Act, joint projects with MARR and monitoring activities relating to federal legislation. The Committee discussed options for local government cultural sensitivity training, the lapsed Protocol between UBCM and First Nations Summit, as well as the possibility of hosting a provincial C2C forum in 2015 or 2016.

An update on UBCM’s discussions with AANDC regarding the development of a formalized communication and information sharing agreement was provided and members discussed pursuing a meeting with the Honourable John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, to discuss policy matters of mutual interest.

Environment Committee

The Environment Committee received a delegation from Ministry of Environment staff to discuss the province’s approach to land based spill preparedness and response in BC. The Committee also discussed Urban Deer Management and reviewed the recommendations arising from the Forum on January 12 and 13th. Reports and information were received on Transport Canada’s Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulation; the Ministry of Health’s Groundwater Consultation; and the Riparian Area Regulations.

A more in depth review of the Committee’s recent work was profiled in last week’s Compass.

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