With the annual Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) nearing, Trail council recently made a policy change as to how many representatives the city will send to Vancouver next month, and in future years.
In the past, all six councillors could attend if they chose to do so, alongside the mayor and a senior staff member. Policy guidelines now cut the number in half to three councillors, in addition to the mayor and senior staff member.
Further, council revised its longstanding policy on how many delegates can attend the FCM, or Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference. The FCM is held yearly in Eastern Canada and thus, comes with much higher travel expenses which taxpayers are on the hook to cover.
Previously policy guidelines permitted one councillor and the mayor, but it’s now down to only one voting delegate.
It’s important to note that usually only the Trail mayor travelled east to the FCM, and this year, no one from the city attended.
So the question is, why are the policy changes needed now?
“Trail council amended its (policy) for conventions and delegations for several reasons,” Mayor Lisa Pasin began.
“First, it reflects historical practice of the number of attendees at each conference. Second, it better aligns a realistic annual convention budget to the size of our municipality, whereby it focuses council’s attendance on the smaller conventions that are closer to home.”
Pasin says the AKBLG, or Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments, and UBCM are viewed as more relevant than the federal conference.
“Due to the sizes of the conferences as well as the regional and provincial scope of the AKBLG and UBCM versus the federal scope of the FCM,” she explained.
“Third, reducing the number of councillors attending conferences was a decision made based on fiscal priorities and allocation of taxation dollars, when considering highest and best use of funds.”
This year’s UBCM, which is a provincial conference attended by elected officials from across province every fall, will be held over five days beginning Sept. 23, at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
“The conference allows attendees to share best practices, network with each other, learn what is happening in other municipalities through workshops and dialogue, as well as identify trends through educational sessions,” Pasin said. “Important and relevant topics such as the opioid crisis, legalization of cannabis and homelessness are examples of sessions that may occur.”