A couple of weeks ago I was musing about a day in the life of Mayor and Council. How about a week? The Mayor, four Councillors, and the CAO have recently returned to the daily toil from a week to ten days attending various conventions intended to increase our general usefulness as Mayor and Council. Some have said, only half in jest, “Oh! So you get to go to Victoria and live it up in a fancy hotel.” Yea, right! The hotels are comfortable as hotels go but a week in the nicest gets to be a drag on the constitution of the hardiest.
But I will quit complaining and describe briefly the work we were doing in our absence. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) met in Victoria this year giving us ready access to the offices of the Ministers and their staffs. We met with the Minister in charge of communities to plead our case for tax relief measures. He listened, questioned, and appeared to think. More work has to be done on this project.
The Minister of Highways gave us a friendly ear on the repairs we would like the Ministry to accomplish on Highway 97 near the Rec Centre. Council and Administration believe that work should be done in conjunction with the District’s work on the Right-in, Right-out access to the Rec Centre.
We were able to get a hearing to present (again) our request to acquire a parcel of BC Rail swamp land for green space. Our offer: a buck. BC Rail seems to think that it is prime industrial property for which full price should be paid.
Finally, we met with Ministry staff on another tax issue. Outcome: after several ambiguous leads, we are now clear on the procedure the District must follow to achieve our desired result.
So, what else? It’s like this: I left home at 4:20 Sunday morning and squeaked onto the seven o’clock ferry to Victoria and was settled in my room by 10. At seven-thirty Monday morning I was on my way to the Mayors’ Caucus where we had a day-long debate on how to deal with our infrastructure deficit – the fact of our aging infrastructure and how to pay the costs of upgrades to sewers and repairs to roads and bridges.
The UBCM Conference ran from Tuesday through Friday and some of the most gripping sessions were the debates on resolutions put forward by municipalities. You may have heard that the UBCM supported legalization of weed – but there’s much more.
In addition to UBCM, Councillor Galbraith attended the Communities in Bloom Convention on the previous Thursday and Friday on her way to Victoria. I attended the COSCO (Convention of Senior Citizens Organizations) on Monday and Tuesday in Vancouver on my way home.
Our time was full. We feel well used, if not abused. Our eyes have been opened again to the common challenges and solutions faced by all municipalities.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor