Meet the Mayor
October 29, 2014
The Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention is rapidly slipping into history but some of the discussions your elected members of Council had with members of the senior Government are still very much alive and active in Council planning discussions.
The fact of the matter is this: we will never get away from the need for adequate and up-to-date water and sewer services. We will never get away from the need for competent and up-to-date-in-their-thinking members of Council who can meet the Government eyeball to eyeball and hold their own.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether we meet with politicians or with staffers in Victoria. We have to know the details of our needs and present them in a credible way.
Chetwynd’s on-going sewer project was well represented by Councillors Weisgerber and Brownlee in meetings with staff and with politicians. Staff, of course, speaks directly to the processes of grants and the technicalities of engineering and construction; politicians deal with the optics.
I am pleased to be able to report that the Ministry officials most directly responsible for the success or failure of Chetwynd’s grant request have been in recent contact with Chetwynd Administrator Doug Fleming regarding submitting the grant application for funding the sewer treatment plant upgrades. Chetwynd’s practice is to maintain such regular contact with Ministry officials that they can put a face to the voice on the end of the line and recognize that a human being is speaking. It seems to be good business.
Of course there are other people who will have major deciding powers when the application lands on their desks. In an earlier column I referred to Minister of Transportation Stone who is the point person in discussions with the Federal Ministry issuing the funds. Your Council representatives met with him at UBCM. And there is our own MP Bob Zimmer. Nothing will come the way of Chetwynd without Mr. Zimmer’s support. It would make sense to speak with him face to face. We plan to do just that. On November 12 I, with Administrator Fleming, will drive to Prince George to lay our case for his support before MP Zimmer.
Your tax dollars were spent to send representatives to UBCM and to reimburse me for my drive to Prince George. I suppose we could have contented ourselves with neglecting all the expensive face-to-face work. We merely could have sent an application in the mail. We might have saved a couple of thousand at the cost of millions. But I cannot invent an apology for spending tax dollars to promote a benefit for Chetwynd that will serve the community for the next decades.
Will we be successful? With no guarantee of success (as in most everything we set out to accomplish), we’ll find out sometime in the spring. We are working hard to achieve Plan A but if the grant money goes south there is always Plan B. Whatever the Plan, the upgrades cannot be deferred indefinitely.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor