Politicians take local issues to UBCM

Mayor from Ashcroft, Cache Creek and Clinton talk about what matters to their communities.

Unlike some years when there is an overriding issue that local communities share, this year municipal politicians are thinking about jobs, government grants and infrastructure when they head to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) annual convention later this month.

Many of BC’s Cabinet Ministers will also be at the convention to meet with their municipal counterparts.

Cache Creek will be meeting with Environment Minister Mary Polak to talk about  waste management issues.

“We’d like to invite the Minister to visit the Landfill,” said Mayor John Ranta.

He and his councillors will bring to her attention the capacity in the landfill. The old landfill will be closing next year, although the new landfill will be ready to use – without Metro Vancouver as a partner. MV is still expected to deposit  about 160,000 tonnes in the landfill  next year.

Clinton has an intersting proposal for the Ministry of Forests.

Mayor Jim Rivett and his councillors are going to pitch an idea for a pilot project to Ministry staff for consideration of the Minister who won’t be at the convention.

Rivett says he’s been in touch with West Fraser and with private landowners, and they are proposing that  West Fraser would be willing to make up a fuel management plan for private landowners in return for their timber.

The Annual Allowable Cut is going to shrink soon, he said. It was expanded to clean out the beetle kill, and that is almost finished. West Fraser is going to be looking for wood.

“We’re at a perfect point right now to get the big companies to do this in return for wood,” he says.

The town and property owners win because they get the fuel cleaned up and avoid  potential wild fires; the province wins because it has reduced firefighting costs; and West Fraser wins because it gets more wood.

Rivett says they’ve spoken to local Forestry officials who say the decision needs to come from the top.

Clinton is also meeting with Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, also responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch.

Rivett says they met with Attorney General Suzanne Anton last year at the convention and expressed concern with changes to the liquor law. He said she assured them that the changes would allow for new opportunities, but instead Clinton lost two pubs and the jobs that went with them after businesses in the Lower Mainland bought their liquor licenses.

He said the town’s only liquor store applied for extended hours and a Sunday opening but was turned down.

“Our issue isn’t about being able to buy liquor on a Sunday as it is about extended hours and more jobs.”

Clinton also wants to speak to Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development about maintaining the $10,000 annual grant to the provncial Communities in Bloom organization, now that responsibility for it has been transferred to his ministry.

“Fassbender, being an ex-mayor, should understand the benefit of these volunteers,” said Rivett. “It works out to about $300 per community, which is peanuts!”

Clinton also wants to put in a second water pressure system and needs funding for it. The Minister’s staff researches the project and gives their recommendation to UBCM staff.

Ashcroft Mayor Jack Jeyes and councillors will be meeting with Minister of Health, Terry Lake to talk about the Wellness Health Action Coalition’s (WHAC) Rural Health Care Delivery Model proposal. Separately, they will speak to  Interior Health board members about the hospital lab and  imaging, the future of health care in Ashcroft, and the possibility of having nurse practitioners.

Ashcroft will also meet with Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, John Rustad.

Jeyes said the Council is finding it a challenge to build neighbourly relations with surrounding First Nations and would like his insight and assistance.

Ashcroft will also be meeting with Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Peter Fassbender  about the Small Community Grant.

The unconditional grantfrom the province to help small towns deal with the services downloaded to them by the province, has been reduced over the years. The town would like to know in advance of finalizing their annual budget how much they will be receiving so they can plan on how to use it.