Economic Development & Local Governments
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In a 2004 survey on local government priorities, UBCM members ranked economic development as the number one priority for their local governments. Since that time and in response to that original survey, UBCM has ramped up its efforts in economic development. The stories of local government action aimed at bettering the economic and social well being of their communities and regions are numerous. This report, prepared by the UBCM's Community Economic Development Committee, provides a snapshot of these stories plus additional resources so local governments can engage in dialogue within their own communities. The main objective of this publication is to promote dialogue and inspire solutions to the challenges local governments face with respect to economic development planning.
Wood First Legislation
In September 2009, the Province introduced the Wood First Act, which aims to increase demand for wood products by requiring provincially-funded building products use wood as the primary construction material. The Act provides the basis on which the Province can recommend best practices and report on the use of wood in provincially-funded buildings. UBCM has flagged to the Ministry that the additional reporting requirements in the new legislation may be an administrative and cost burden to local government. Ministry of Forests & Range staff have indicated that the intent of the legislation was to promote the use of wood in construction, not to increase construction costs or reporting requirements.
Response to Working Roundtable on Forestry Report
This past year, with feedback from members and Area Associations, UBCM prepared a response to the report and recommendations of the Working Roundtable on Forestry. In July 2009 the Community Economic Development Committee met with the Minister of Forests & Range to present the UBCM response and discuss, generally, the challenges facing the forest sector.
On February 9, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government - not the provinces - should regulate fish farms, because the federal government has constitutional powers over the ocean. The court directed the transfer of administration and regulatory control to the federal government. UBCM has expressed the need for local government consultation on this matter, as any change to the regulatory regime must take into consideration the interests and authority of local governments with respect to the siting and operations of the aquaculture industry.
BC Utilities Commission - Long Term Transmission Inquiry
In 2009, UBCM registered to participate in the BC Utilities Commission Inquiry into long-term transmission infrastructure needs. UBCM has been monitoring the Inquiry process, reviewing documents and providing feedback as the process evolves. Recently, the Inquiry suspended its activities, pending the release of recommendations from the Province's Green Energy Task Force. UBCM will continue to participate when the Inquiry reconvenes, and also encourages individual local governments to register if they have specific regional interests that they wish to make known to the Inquiry.
Offshore Oil & Gas MOU Working Group
Since early 2006, a working group of local government representatives has been discussing the potential impacts of offshore oil and gas development on BC's coastal communities. The group was constituted as a result of an MOU between UBCM and the Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources and reports to the Community Economic Development Committee. In summer 2009 the working group provided a report summarizing its activities and recommendations to date to the Minister of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources.
Independent Power Projects
The Province is committed to developing more clean, green renewable energy sources. This has opened the door to more Independent Power Projects (IPPs) throughout the province and green power calls by BC Hydro. UBCM members have endorsed resolutions requesting greater coordination of land use planning, better information about cumulative impacts of IPP development, better management of transmission line routing and a more coordinated approach to IPP project approvals. Various working groups have been established, all of which have grappled with various aspects of these issues. As IPP development continues it appears that there is a greater understanding amongst all parties about the growing need to deal with these types of developments in a more consultative and coordinated way, considering IPPs in the broader land use context.
Community Tourism Guidebook
Transforming Communities Through Tourism: A Handbook for Community Tourism Champions
In partnership with linkBC, Tourism Related Innovation Project (TRIP BC) and other tourism-related associations, UBCM supported the development of a guidebook to assist communities in identifying tourism opportunities as well as the "how to" of developing an effective tourism plan.
Provincial Trails Strategy
UBCM in 2009 responded formally to the Ministry of Tourism's draft Trails Strategy for BC, noting local government's support for an expanded and interconnected trail network. In addition UBCM highlighted challenges to be addressed such as conflicting trail users, liability issues, private land owners, and funding for trail development and maintenance.
Ranching Task Force
In January 2010, UBCM commented on the recommendations of the provincial Ranching Task Force - specifically, the issues of water access, disposal of slaughter waste, meat inspection regulation, subdivision proposals related to intergenerational transfer of ranch operations, fencing requirements, and reviewing Agricultural Land Reserve boundaries.