September 21, 2018
From the resort city of Whistler, site of the 2018 Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual convention: I wish I was home. Indeed! Whistler is a beautiful and confusing community designed to grab the visitor’s attention and keep her or him lost as in a maze as he or she moves from venue to venue to attend the various meetings with Ministries and plenary sessions. But worry not; there are many opportunities to spend your spare time or cash.
Beautifully designed and artistically laid out, Whistler is a busy place even in the rain with hundreds of people, tourists, I assume, strolling the streets and malls in search of a sight or a site. And the city location can’t be a distraction. Two hours out of Vancouver in a bowl among mountain peaks, people will come even in the rain.
But we delegates, several thousand of us, were not there for the views or the malls, the sights or the sites. Our work started at seven in the morning and propelled us through the days. I had the opportunity to attend three industry breakfasts (no comment on the food), one for mining, one for gas, and one for forestry. Speakers included the Ministers of the assorted industries and leaders in the same.
The speakers at the gas breakfast assured us that industry is closer now than it has ever been to a Final Investment Decision on LNG. I will leave you to interpret the meaning of that assurance and the implications for the North Ease and for Chetwynd. The big, sometimes unspoken, concern for all industries is still the uncertainty surrounding Caribou Recovery. However, I believe we are making some progress toward a resolution on the processes of recovery.
I cannot say much at this time about our activities on this file at the conference except that representatives from Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge, and the Peace River Regional District met with responsible Ministers and following that meeting, with Ministry staff, to discuss our ideas and proposals – with some hopeful progress. I also arranged a meeting between available Councillors and industry leaders to plan future action.
The policy sessions are some of the most interesting events at the conference. At these sessions proposed resolutions are presented, argued, passed, or defeated. Chetwynd had three resolutions on the floor: one on Caribou Recovery, one on changes to our ambulance service, and one on pre-emptive action to reduce the threat of flooding during heavy rain events.
As the co-sponsor with the Peace River Regional District of the resolution on Caribou Recovery, I had to juggle a couple of meetings to be at the microphone to argue the case. It was not given that it would be approved. The level of opposition to reasonable proposals is surprising or not surprising depending on your point of view. One delegate opposed the resolution “vehemently” (his word) and urged the assembly to do likewise. Many did oppose. Mayor McPherson of our sister District of Tumbler Ridge came to the rescue as my time was expired and successfully concluded the defense of our position.
As the final two resolutions do not come to the floor until tomorrow morning I cannot know now how they will fare.
Of course there are unmeasurables for the convention that are significant even if they can’t be weighed or priced to everyone’s satisfaction. We meet and chat with delegates from communities across the province upon whose ideas we will meditate over the months to come. Many of these ideas will quietly mold our thinking and shape the policies we will adopt as Mayor and Council. Little by little, we all get to live in better communities.
In the meantime, I’d like to embed an idea in the minds of our youth. You are the generation that is going to be running this good land when guys like me are no more. Did you ever think of getting into public office? Why not start preparing? The next election is only four years away.
Oh, by the way, said the ancient sage: “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.”
Merlin Nichols, Mayor