FCM meetings a learning experience

I had the opportunity to attend the 74th Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual conference in Halifax from June 3 to 6, 2011. This year’s conference focused on “Strong Cities – Strong Communities – Strong Canada”.

I had the opportunity to attend the 74th Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual conference in Halifax from June 3 to 6, 2011.  This year’s conference focused on “Strong Cities – Strong Communities – Strong Canada”.

All political parties were invited to make presentations.

The Conservatives were represented by Denis Lebel, the minister responsible for infrastructure and transportation. As a former mayor from Quebec, he promised that he will do his best to legislate the gas tax currently at $2 billion. He was proud of the 28,000 infrastructure projects that generated 530,000 jobs. The infrastructure projects leveraged a total expenditure of $31 billion.

The Liberals were represented by Bob Rae who stressed his interim leadership role. His focus was on the challenges for Canada and his top issue was worldwide economic circumstances and the globalization issue when small countries like Greece affect the entire world. He was positive about the USA because of its resilience. The current infrastructure deficit is a major issue for Canada and we are not addressing it appropriately. The third issue was our fourth order of government “The Aboriginal Reserves” Housing – Suicide – Unemployment (50 per cent under 25).

Jack Layton was very upbeat about their new role in Ottawa. He predicted that communities will not be a priority with the Conservatives.

They will use local governments to help balance the books. He promised to fight for local government and the current $123 billion infrastructure deficit. He also supports increasing the current revenue stream of eight cents on the dollar for municipalities.

Resolutions that were supported include: climate change funding support for municipal governments, medical cannabis, policies of Canada Post re: mail outs, wastewater treatment funding, the right to adequate housing, infrastructure grant programs, wireless communications and improved transportation links.

I participated in one policy forum:  “Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development.” The cost for meeting the new federal wastewater standards are estimated at $20 billion. Some modifications have been made which include a combined sewer outlet system that is estimated to save $30 million for cities.

Issues that continue to need further evaluation include sewage sludge and their application to land, brownfield material disposal, solar power blockage to power grids, building codes for green economy, education of the public, the modified crops issue and water export licensing to particularly the US.

This was a very interesting and educational session.

There is no question that we need a new, long term infrastructure investment strategy. The strategy needs to include a partnership of the four levels of government.

This is certainly the most important policy paper on the FCM agenda.

I also participated in the “City Development Tour” and discussion. The former City of Halifax is now a part of the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) established by the provincial government. It has a population of 400,000, a land mass larger than the province of P.E.I. and represents almost 50 per cent of the population in Nova Scotia.

The location of various facilities and the required financial support required was one of the major reasons it was established.  They use a ward system with 24 elected politicians including the mayor.

Land issues such as zoning etc. are made in the individual areas by an appointed group similar to the APC for Area A and B. All financial issues are directed to the HRM.

Halifax is very rich in heritage buildings and this has created significant stress between the city and businesses or developers. They have an area known as the historic properties and additions or upgrades to these designated buildings can be very expensive for developers. They have done a fantastic job on the upgraded facilities we saw. The famous Pier 21 and the Cunard facility have specialty stores and a convention centre. Future plans are very ambitious and having the HRM financing ability will make it possible.

A second tour included the new Canada Games facility some 26 km from Halifax centre. This is a new facility that was opened for the Canada Games in February of this year. Even though it is in its honeymoon year, it has had to be supported by almost 50 per cent from taxation.

This centre includes all aspects of the TALC plus a fieldhouse with a running track and four basketball courts.

About 80,000 people live in this area but financial support is required by HRM.

The experience in Nova Scotia is that Aquatic Centres need about 75 per cent financial support from taxation and arenas about 25 to 35 per cent taxation support. What a beautiful facility with a price tag of $45 million. It has a $4.5 million operating expense and currently expects $3.5 million in revenue.

I participated in a very interesting seminar: “Corporate Sponsorship – Is It Really for You.” Many communities throughout Canada are currently taking advantage of corporate sponsorship for events or facilities. Many facilities are currently named after corporations such as Rexall Centre and Nova Scotia Centre in Fredricton. There have also been some problems and professional help could be useful.

Finally, I had the opportunity to participate in one of the signature events of the Yarmouth 250th anniversary. The present day passengers dressed in 17th century garb arrived in two longboats. It was very emotional. This gave me an opportunity to interact with a number of mayors.

Because of the American recession, their main income derived from lobster is at an all time low and many small communities are in deep financial trouble. One small community went into receivership and now has a provincial government administrator. Two more communities are on the verge of receivership.

Communities with facilities with outlying areas not contributing financially is one of the major problems. The provincial government is expected to continue their amalgamation drive as per Halifax.

The FCM was another incredible learning experience.

Dieter Bogs in the City of Trail Mayor

Just Posted

Work has begun on the $10-million, 120-kilometre fibre-optic line from Playmor Junction to north of Nakusp. File photo
Work begins on Slocan Valley fibre-optic line

The $10-million, 120-kilometre fibre-optic line runs from Playmor Junction to north of Nakusp

Prince Charles Secondary School
School District 8 votes in favour of name change for Secondary School in Creston

In an act of reconciliation, a new name will be chosen for Prince Charles Secondary School

A B.C. police officer shows an approved roadside screening device. Photo: Saanich News file
Woman caught passed out behind the wheel in Trail

Police located the 38-year old in her parked but still running car, and had to rouse her awake.

Jade Osecki leading a Fridays for Future climate march in Nelson in 2020. Photo: Submitted
Nelson Grade 12 student Jade Osecki wins Suzy Hamilton Award

Carolyn Schramm was also honoured in this year’s environmental award for West Kootenay women

Photo courtesy of Mercer Celgar
Mercer Celgar to install new technology thanks to $4.5 million in federal funds

Project features process to improve fibre processing and address regional fibre availability issues

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Most Read