Meet the Mayor
September 17, 2014
Have you ever paused to wonder what mayors talk about when mayors get together to talk? If you were to listen in on our conversations you would likely hear impassioned talk of improved highway access to the region; of infrastructure deficits that need immediate attention; of solid waste management, recycling, sewers, and demands on other community services that must be met; of deaf ears in Victoria; of how to get the message across to Government that we actually do live here and we represent the hopes and aspirations of the people of our communities. You would overhear strategizing on how the two per cent of the BC population here in the Northeast can make an unforgettable impression on a Government that is supported and courted by the other 98% of the people of British Columbia.
You’d hear discussion on how we can attract medical practitioners to the Northeast and how we can keep those who live and work here. We might be discussing prices of building supplies and motor fuel. Maybe it would be the pressures we experience from neighbouring Alberta. There is no end of stimulating topics.
On September seven (yes, seven; we work on Sundays from time to time) and eight the Northeast BC Resource Municipalities Coalition (NEBC), The Engine of BC’s Economic Future, met in Fort St. John for its inaugural session. Below is a synopsis of the priorities of the Coalition that have been thrashed out over the last few months:
- Priority 1: the development of vital, permanent, sustainable communities that provide their citizens with a high quality of life through municipal services that ensure community safety, education, health, economic vitality, and a high-quality natural environment.
- Priority 2: the building and support of permanent communities rather than reliance on fly-in-fly-out camps that contribute little or nothing to the local economies and communities.
- Priority 3: to ensure that adequate services and infrastructure are in place to accommodate industrial growth without sacrificing the quality of existing services.
- Priority 4: to oppose any measures that place the cost of growth on existing municipal residential and business taxpayers.
- Priority 5: to ensure coordinated management of socioeconomic and other impacts associated with resource development.
- Priority 6: to work to maintain the intent of the Peace River MOU with the Province that has provided the Fair Share grants in lieu of industrial taxation outside municipal boundaries for the last approximately 20 years.
You could rightly question how these priorities can be achieved. Honestly, there is no guarantee that any of these priorities will be reached to the extent that we hope. But one thing is certain: none of these priorities will be realized if we don’t know where we are, where we want to go, and unitedly work towards those ends. This is why mayors talk to each other. And for the same reason we need to talk to you.
United we may not stand; divided we certainly will fall.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor