Community on display during AKBLG convention

Representatives from 26 towns and four districts arrive in Trail Thursday for AKBLG convention

Kootenay politicians are about to get taste of Trail – from its Italian culture, hockey history to community spirit – at an annual convention that brings together representatives from 26 communities and four regional districts to discuss common concerns and hopeful resolutions.

The three-day Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) is attracting up to 165 delegates and about 30 of their partners to Trail from Thursday to Saturday.

By now members attending the convention have submitted about 15 resolutions for consideration, including Trail’s push for the province to develop a transportation strategy to critically assess and determine solutions toward the sustainability of passenger directed vehicle operations in rural communities.

When the majority votes in favour of a resolution, it’s carried onto the Union of British Columbia Municipalities in hopes of receiving provincial support.

Beyond the obvious economic spin-off caught by hotels, restaurants and up to 80 per cent local contractors hired on to see this event through, hosting the AKBLG is a chance to showcase what Trail and its surrounding communities offer.

“I’ve said it right from the beginning that everything that we do, we do well,” said Trail councillor Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson.

“You know me, I’m professing it every minute I can that this is just going to be the best!”

Ann Damude of Ann Damude Events has been hired on as convention coordinator to ensure the event, last held in the Silver City about 10 year ago, is one to remember.

“The feedback is always phenomenal about how friendly and hospitable the West Kootenay communities are and I think Trail is a stellar example,” she said. “You can’t buy that reputation.”

The city is following the green precedent set at other conventions by taking the less is more approach with the use of electronic communications minimizing print materials, for instance.

This year’s theme “Live, Work, Play: Exploring Rural Communities Potential” speaks to the lifestyle most residents are after when they settle in the Kootenays.

“We’re all here because we like to play but what we realize is that if people can’t make a living here, then they have to leave,” said Damude, noting that many of the convention workshops centre around this theme.

Delegates will get a chance to take in workshops of their choice, which may include the seven deadly sins of tourism, new economic initiatives or a look at why (more) good people don’t enter politics.

They’ll also get to tour the Waneta expansion project and Teck Trail Operations and hear from keynote speaker Mike Harcourt, a former B.C. premier whose work nowadays focuses on sustainable and resilient communities.

“He’s quite revolutionary,” said Damude. “He’s very grassroots. It’s not top down, it’s not big federal programs and policies, he’s saying, ‘Give rural communities the opportunity to decide what they need and then support them.’”

In the meantime, partners also have a number of fun activities to enjoy from building their own hanging baskets, creating an Italian dinner and delving into collage work at Trail’s VISAC Gallery.

Together convention participants will unwind at an opening ceremony Thursday at the Best Western Columbia River Hotel, where “Hockey Night In Canada” will encourage people to pull out their fan gear and learn about Trail’s hockey history through historical footage from the Trail Historical Society and test their knowledge with hockey trivia.

The tone will switch gears at the Riverbelle Friday night during the “Silver City Saloon,” where the night will be a gamble for participants whose winning chips could earn them prizes in a silent auction. The games will follow with a four-course traditional Italian meal.

For more information on the AKBLG, visit www.akblg2012.com

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