UBCM speaks with one voice on various issues

Resolutions passed touch on cell towers, marijuana decriminalization and tanker traffic

If you lobbed a rock through any downtown Victoria restaurant last week, chances are you’d have hit a visiting politician.

Representatives from more than 200 municipalities, First Nations and regional districts descended on the Victoria Conference Centre for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference for four days.

Attendees tackled 203 resolutions – down from 224 in 2011 – on issues ranging from the endorsement of marijuana decriminalization to infrastructure spending.

Provincial and federal ministers held panel discussions with mayors and councillors, while Premier Christy Clark and opposition NDP leader Adrian Dix used the platform for pre-election posturing.

In short, it was a lot to digest.

“The UBCM serves a couple of different functions,” said Jamie Lawson, political scientist at the University of Victoria. “Increasingly, (UBCM is) the voice of service delivery and infrastructure,” he said, adding the conference provides a venue for municipal leaders to share ideas and to build political clout.

“It’s also become a kind of place where the provincial premier can deliver a state of the union address once a year,” he said.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, former UBCM president, said the conference is useful for gauging the pulse of the province.

“These (resolutions) form the basis of policy and then, with one voice from all the local governments in B.C., you go to work to try and affect provincial and federal policies to match ours,” he said.

The most recent example of this occurred last fall when the province’s RCMP policing contract came up for a 20-year renewal.

After UBCM passed resolutions around the ballooning costs of RCMP services at their 2010 conference, Minister of Justice Shirley Bond authorized the appointment of 10 local politicians to the RCMP contract management committee.

The committee has a say in proposed cost increases or service changes from the RCMP, and gives municipalities a two-year opt out clause and five-year review of police services.

Coun. Dave Hodgins was glad to receive the support of UBCM last week on Esquimalt’s resolution to seek greater consultation from the federal government over cell tower placement.

While he was impressed with the accessibility of ministers and the sharing of ideas during the conference, he was frustrated by some presentations.

He called a provincial Police Services presentation from assistant deputy minister Clayton Pecknold “basically just a regurgitated survey of issues,” and said the province needs to focus more on solutions.

“We heard nothing about action,” Hodgins said.

Leonard said the resolutions can and do create change, pointing to previous successes where resolutions convinced higher-level governments to give municipalities more gas tax and 100 per cent of traffic fine revenue.

“It takes time, but we’ve had some incredible examples over the last 10 years,” he said.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Notable resolutions passed at UBCM 2012 convention:

• Call for provincial ban on possession, sale and distribution of shark fin, and federal ban on importation of shark fin

• Opposition to more oil tanker traffic through coastal waters without proper safeguards, and opposition to Enbridge pipeline and Kinder Morgan pipeline projects (narrowly passed)

• Call for federal government to decriminalize marijuana and research its taxation

Just Posted

VicPD seeks person of interest after short-term rental ransacked

Combined losses for damage and theft are over $5,000

Whitecaps favourite switches to the Island

Marcel de Jong worked to end Whitecaps contract, joining Pacific FC on the ground floor

RCMP ask for public’s help to determine cause of weekend fire

RCMP are investigating the cause of the South Island Concrete fire

UVic’s cutting-edge centre leading the way in drones and AI

Centre For Aerospace Research works with partners including Department of National Defence

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

Most Read