UBCM highlighted busy September for council
Mayor of the City of Fernie
September saw strategic planning to determine priorities, the hiring of a new chief administrative officer, and a weeklong Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Victoria that was attended by all of council.
This was particularly important this year because as mayor I sit on several committees like the Highway 3 coalition of mayors and the Resort Municipality Initiative. Both of those groups had three meetings so council members had to meet with ministry personnel to bring forward issues such as changing the light standards to LED lighting that would save thousands of tax dollars.
This is an initiative brought forward by Councillors Dan McSkimming and Phil Iddon. Meeting with IH to discuss health delivery was attended by Councillor Joe Warshawsky. Councillor Jon Levesque and CAO Don Schaffer met with Minister Shirley Bond to discuss issues concerning the Municipal and Regional District Tax.
Councillor McSkimming and I attended the Municipal Insurance Association AGM and Councillor Warshawsky, CAO Schaffer and myself attended a meeting with BC Assessment to discuss the effects of increased assessments in Fernie, although it proved fruitless as BCA stands firm on its numbers.
I had opportunity to speak with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone who reassured that the plans for the Lizard Creek Bridge replacement are on track. I had a meeting with the Auditor General for Municipalities who informed that an official report on the audit done in Fernie this summer regarding Human Resources should be completed soon and will be sent to council.
The Highway 3 subcommittee, of which I am part, got good news with the announcement that Destination BC would be providing assistance with the infrastructure, investment, policy and experience development side of the planning and also that grant applications to go towards branding and marketing had been successful from Columbia Basin Trust and SIDIT.
With the RMI program, although assured that it will continue in 2017, there was no announcement from Minister Bond as to the continuation for the future.
UBCM sessions begin at 7:30 a.m. on topics such as rail safety, climate action, UBER concerns, soil contamination and invasive species, homelessness and gang violence.
One session presented by Darlene, a First Nations delegate, had the entire room in total silence while she spoke for over an hour. Her powerful story of being taken from parents and placed in residential schools and the subsequent abuses had everyone in tears. Darlene explained the reason that there are children suffering today is that when those abused kids became adults and had children of their own they had no idea of how to love and so the suffering continues.
Kudos to our neighbour Sparwood, former mayor and Councillor Lois Halko who was a presenter at the Stretch Code session describing how her community has been working to meet a commitment under the Charter to create a carbon neutral reserve fund, to provide a subsidy for energy assessments repaid from building fees.
Thanks goes to Columbia Power for providing a grant to sponsor another volunteer luncheon to thank amazing volunteers.
I attended the Small Business Workshop organized by Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski and heard concerns regarding lack of business space downtown, lack of industrial land, lack of workers, need for affordable housing, concern of attacks on big coal companies, concerns regarding not enough information on how to start a small business, information is out there but does it get to the right people, concerns regarding the PST and confusion over it.
A pilot project to have two Justice Law students working in bylaw enforcement turned out well as the students were able to do a lot of foot and bicycle patrols looking for infractions with dogs, garbage, graffiti, parking etc.
Council made the decision to add more bear proof bins for public use available during all hours at several city facilities, the Memorial Arena and Community Centre were refreshed with a new paint colour, more roads were resurfaced. The Arts Station deck is being replaced and a new public washroom will be built by the end of this year.
Lead image: Mayor Mary Giuliano, Minister Peter Fassbender and Councillor Phil Iddon during UBCM. Photos courtesy Mary Giuliano