With the annual Union of BC Municipalities conference nearing, the Trail Times asked local leaders if there are any standout issues they will be bringing to the floor this year.
Up for discussion from Monday (Sept. 25) to Friday, are 150 resolutions from across the province. Regional resolutions from the Kootenay Boundary and Central Kootenay include: inadequate access to used oil recycle sites in rural areas; review of and amendments to the Hospital District Act; capital cost-sharing in regional hospitals; and from the City of Nelson, a call to give all B.C. municipalities authority to place a surtax on “vacant and derelict residential properties.”
Commonly referred to as the UBCM, the yearly gathering was formed to provide “a common voice for local government … (and) reflects the old adages ‘strength in numbers’ and ‘united we stand – divided we fall.’”
Trail Coun. Lisa Pasin is acting mayor this week, and she said the city is not the sponsor of any resolutions at the 2017 UBCM.
As in past years, Trail delegates do not review resolutions in advance of the conference.
“Trail council has not historically reviewed the individual resolutions in advance of the conference and delegates listen to the debate and vote accordingly,” she clarified.
“Typically the Trail delegates do caucus and will determine if there are any specific issues that have a more direct impact on Trail and may comment during the debate.”
The UBCM Resolution Committee reviews each resolution and provides comments, given that some resolutions are effective repeats, Pasin explained.
“And (they) provide a recommendation to the delegates in terms of whether or not the resolution should be supported or not, or amended.”
Once resolutions are dealt with, they are forwarded to the provincial government for consideration.
“This united approach by all the B.C. municipalities and regional districts is still felt to be the best avenue to communicate with the province,” Pasin said. “And to lobby for changes to the permissive legislation that govern local government authorities and directly impact services and governance.”
Pasin did note a few resolutions that may be of particular interest to Trail.
The first hones in on staffing levels at Integrated RCMP Detachments, given that Trail paid $2.2 million toward protective services this year, which accounts for 13 per cent of the city’s operating expenses.
The resolution was brought forth by West Kelowna, and states: “Municipalities authorize and fund increases to the number of municipal officers at the integrated detachments, but the number of provincially funded officers does not automatically change, possibly resulting in a potential imbalance and financial subsidy to provincial or rural areas by the municipalities; the city is calling for the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General to initiate a review … to ensure that the municipal and provincial areas are being funded fairly.”
Later in the week, another discussion will revolve around the restoration of provincial funding levels for public libraries.
“Given the city will be opening the Riverfront Centre next year,” Pasin said. “And this will come with considerable direct cost to the City of Trail with very limited provincial support.”
The BC One Card grant is seen to be inequitable and has no correlation with use, Pasin pointed out.
“Trail has some 1,500 BC One Cards and currently only receives a grant of $10,250 per year to address this significant additional demand on public library resources.”