Meet the Mayor
October 1, 2014
Last week I wrote in general terms of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Whistler. You might question the wisdom of holding the convention at a resort municipality. I question that decision, too, but not because of the cost. It is probably more expensive to hold it at the Vancouver Convention Centre. My problem is getting lost in Whistler. I find myself going the wrong direction(s), going in circles, asking for directions to the various venues and then to get back to my hotel (and getting blank looks in response). That seems to be a common problem with many of the delegates.
But we always seem to make it to our destinations. We just have to start out early enough to arrive on time no matter how many circles we cut in the process. Just this evening I started out from the meeting site intending to arrive at my hotel, walked for five minutes in the rain, and encountered Highway 99 roaring past in front of me. Reversing my direction I regained my starting point and considered my options. A helpful security guard pointed me to the right way where I met up with Mike Caisley from Tumbler Ridge who was having similar problems. Together we encouraged ourselves back to our hotel. This is municipal cooperation at its best. Chetwynd supports Tumbler Ridge; Tumbler Ridge supports Chetwynd.
But I don’t question the wisdom of sending delegates to the convention. Our job as Mayor and Council is to decide what is important for Chetwynd. That’s the reason you elected us. And we don’t make these decisions in a vacuum. They are made in the context of how we interpret the values of our public, in the context of legal parameters, in the context of what is right and wrong, in the context of available financing, and in other contexts. (When we reach decisions on what is important we communicate our decisions to Administration to be carried out.) Our Administrator is charged with ensuring that we understand the contexts in which we work and that we don’t stray over the boundaries of legality, ethics, and prudence.
Because we live in a fluid world in which Government priorities change, funding mechanisms are modified or disappear, and laws and regulations from time to time are reinterpreted, we need to be continually in tune with the shifting currents. Municipal administration has the legal responsibility to guide the Mayor and Council through this maze.
That’s the reason we have as many of the Council as possible attend. We choose the options according to our interest and. As in all conventions, we find that some sessions teach us more than others; some are more inspiring; some are just plain dull.
Can we place a dollar value on the benefits of attending? Not really. But over time we would find ourselves out of touch with the reality of local government and Chetwynd would experience the result in poor leadership.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor