Meet the Mayor
Sorry I missed my column last week but my energy level on returning from a study tour in Turkey was too much depleted. I simply couldn’t hammer it out (couldn’t find the words in my head, either). I’m writing this column from Vancouver where the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) is holding its annual convention and the first day is drawing down to a welcome close.
Today the Chetwynd delegates were involved in a number of activities and events in support of Chetwynd’s interests. A meeting with Minister Oakes of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development and her staff left us realizing that more work and lobbying for boundary expansion and other goals will be on our agenda in the weeks ahead. (Who told me life would be easy?)
The Mayors’ Caucus met from one o’clock until five o’clock this afternoon. As the name of the group implies, the Caucus is a gathering of all the Mayors in British Columbia to commiserate, share ideas, and draw from one another’s good, bad, and sometimes-funny experiences. Not surprisingly, our experiences and challenges are very similar no matter the size of the community. That said, I still prefer the challenges we have in Chetwynd to the challenges faced almost any other community in British Columbia. I also prefer the dreams (hopes and plans) we share for our home town.
And, I must say so, as one of the youngest communities in this great province, we are not as deeply embedded in tradition (or debt or dead industries or aging infrastructure) as some other communities I could name. Our resource base is much more robust than that enjoyed by many other towns. Chetwynd has a lot going for us because of where our grand-parents decided to put down roots. Which is not to leave you with the idea that I think we will not be facing enormous challenges. To the contrary. I just believe that, big as are our home-grown challenges, we have the will, the wit, and the muscle to work them through. I say this with confidence in you, the people with whom I share this town.
Day two of UBCM features, among many other appointments, a Small-Talk Forum at which your delegates will speak to two issues affecting the way we do business in Chetwynd: 1) what we perceive as a down loading of provincial responsibility for safety inspections (by a Local Assistant to the Fire Commissioner – our Leo) of major industries, a circumstance affecting all municipalities but having particular importance for smaller communities with limited capacity to undertake such detailed and, in many cases, technical inspections, and 2), use of Gas Tax funding exclusively for assets critical to our “health, safety, and economic prosperity.” Some municipalities wish to broaden the use of these funds to include non-critical infrastructure such as recreational facilities. Chetwynd Council has taken a stand against such use as it would reduce the chances of acquiring a grant for water, sewer, and road projects.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor