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Vernon hosts record-breaking SILGA

Annual Southern Interior Local Government Association puts wrap to four-day event in North Okanagan
Spallumcheen Mayor Christine Fraser (left) accepts the Southern Interior Local Government Association’s 2023 Economic Development Award from Community Excellence Awards sponsor representative Jamie Kozak of Urban Systems at the Prestige Vernon Lodge Friday, April 28. The township won a second award at SILGA for Environmental Sustainability. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

The City of Vernon played super host to a record-breaking convention.

Close to 300 representatives of municipal governments attended the annual Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) annual convention, held in Vernon April 25-28 at the Prestige Vernon Lodge.

That blew away the previous mark of around 220 attendees.

“The weather was great, food was great, people were great,” said Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming just prior to the convention’s end Friday. “There was more time to chat with each other this year. They got to meet each other and see what each community was doing. That’s why this conference was so successful.”

Held every spring, the SILGA convention brings together local government’s elected officials to network and learn from each other.

Over the four days, educational sessions are presented to make the local government reps more knowledgeable and effective in dealing with the requirements of their council or (regional district) board.

The SILGA board also advocates with provincial ministries at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ convention, held in the fall.

Of the record attendees in Vernon, half were veteran politicians, said Cumming, and half were attending their first-ever SILGA event.

“The veterans called it the best SILGA ever,” said Cumming, in his second term as Vernon mayor. “I’m really proud of Vernon. The community has shone. People had a great time visiting our shops and stores, walking up and down the streets and commenting on our parks and facilities. Just tremendous.”

Final day Friday included presenting three Community Excellence Awards, sponsored by Urban System’s and the North Okanagan’s Township of Spallumcheen won two of them.

The township took home the Economic Development Award and the Environmental Sustainability Award.

“We are really surprised and super excited,” said Spallumcheen Mayor Christine Fraser, attending the conference with councillors Joe Van Tienhoven, Gerry Popoff and John Bakker. “It’s validation for how hard our staff has worked to build a sustainable environment and that can develop economically. The township is a place anyone would love to call home.”

Spall won the Economic Development Award after beginning a business roundtable to create local dialogue with the business community. It was so beneficial, more roundtables were created with the farming and economic development stakeholders.

The township’s commitment to initiate improvements to make the environment a little more green, reduce its carbon footprint and increase environmental knowledge help it win the Sustainable Environment Award.

Among the improvements include switching to LED lights in the public works shop, municipal office and township streetlights; using latex-based line paint on all roads; curbside recycling for residents; and purchasing local food and drink for township meetings and events whenever possible.

The Social Responsibility Award went to the Town of Oliver for flying the flag of the Osoyoos Indian Band outside Oliver’s Town Hall.

The 2024 SILGA convention will be held in Kamloops.

READ MORE: Update to B.C. mental health policy, more resolutions passed at SILGA in Vernon

READ MORE: Vernon hosting municipal counterparts for SILGA

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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