September 28, 2016
The Union of British Columbia Municipalities which includes the Regional Districts and, I believe, some of the First Nations, has once again convened for its annual assembly. It’s a busy five days of meetings with Government, engaging in study sessions, hearing and making reports, debating resolutions for change to legislation, and renewing old acquaintances lest they be forgotten.
Meetings with Government, designated as “speed dates” are very fast and not intended to produce detailed action plans. We get fifteen minutes to present our cases at the end of which the Time Keeper stands up and we know it is all over. The benefit derives from repetition. We meet with Ministers and Staff either by phone or in person weeks or even months earlier and give notice that we will follow up at UBCM. At UBCM we give notice that we will follow up again in weeks or months depending on the issue. Eventually action happens or it doesn’t. Such is life when dealing with Government.
But we have to persist. There is no other way to get results.
The District of Chetwynd has several appointments with a number of Government Ministers and Staff this week. Included in our discussions will be potential industrial expansion, taxation strictures, health services, municipal finance and insurance, CN service and facilities, and education needs.
In addition to municipal meetings, as a Director on the Regional District Board, I will be joining with the PRRD delegation meet a number of Ministers to stress the urgency of immediate and robust action to correct as many as possible of the circumstances that contributed to the floods of 2016. As I understand these circumstances, there are fixes that quite readily could be undertaken on some of the watersheds to reduce some of the potential threat.
These fixes need to be undertaken with dispatch.
Some will question the cost benefit ratio for attending UBCM. Hard figures cannot be ascertained. That is to say, it is impossible to measure the benefit the municipality derives from going face to face with government. We cannot determine a hard figure for the benefit of hearing the challenges and victories of our sister municipalities.
But I am pretty sure of this: it would be a dark, cold municipal world without these contacts to buoy us in our own challenges – to help us remember when the going is tough that others have gone this way before us and others are going with us as we go.
Really, that is what UBCM is all about. It cannot be imagined as a vacation paid by the municipality. I have yet to find the perk in the week of study, work, and debate. Facts of the matter are these: hotel room is cramped and uncomfortable, food is marginal at best, days are long, and work is piling up at home.
Don’t take me wrong. I want to be here; I want to meet the ministers; I want to advocate for Chetwynd and it is a pleasure to do so. All the inconveniences I can handle for that. May Chetwynd thrive!
Merlin Nichols, Mayor