I believe that it is very important to have municipal representation at our provincial conference. It allows Council and staff to attend information programs, participate in the resolution process, meet with Provincial Ministers and staff, share concerns and approaches with other municipal leaders and to return home with hopefully a few more tools and approaches that can benefit our community.
This year’s conference was attended by Our Mayor, Councilor Bennest and buys our new CAO Heidi Frank. It was great having three attendees as it is hard to take in multiple workshops, meetings and to take part in the convention if you are buy yourself. You can only attend so many things.
Some highlights for me:
Minister meetings. Attorney General. It is important to note that Ministers are expecting you. This is your opportunity for a one on one conversation. This year we met with two ministers. Minister Suzanne Anton was told of our concerns that with the opening of the new Corrections facility there will be some added policing pressure to our community. The facility itself will generate police files that will have to be managed as well as an expected increase in our community’s population. 250 new jobs plus their families moving into our area. The other concern is that if the new resources needed in our area are housed within the town of Oliver then we need to look at our detachment space. (Potential new officers and support staff). As a local government if we know that we will need capitol improvements to our Police Station then we would like that to happen now not after the opening. Especially if the new construction has our population going over five thousand and the responsibility of our police station will become the responsibility of the Town of Oliver. We had a fifteen minute meeting with the minister* and we met with the Deputy Minister outside of the meeting room for further discussion. The Deputy Minister suggested that the normal process for requesting addition resources comes from: a proven increase in a work load and the request normally goes up through the detachment ranks. We stated that we do not want to wait until a larger caseload is documented. We said that we believe there are a number of certainties that need to be addressed now. Those being an acknowledged future work lord and a rise in the population that will certainly happen. We will follow this meeting up with a letter and we will do our best to make it an agenda item at future Correction Facility Liaison meetings.
Minister Community, sports and Cultural development. Coralee Oakes. We met with the minister and outlined future, sewer, road and water projects that we will be seeking grant dollars to complete this work down the road. We explained our track record of getting things done when we have received grants. We also said we are a community of best practices. Our main goal was to express our sincere thanks for her ministry and her staff for all of their support on the completion of our twinning project. A ten year, three phase project that would not have been completed without their assistance. Minister Oakes announce later in the convention of new grant dollars now being made available for just these requests. Oliver can apply as early as this October for these opportunities. It was a great meeting that ran overtime as the minister wanted to know more about Oliver and our future needs.
I also attended some of the resolution debate. It is interesting to hear the different needs of the many areas of our province.
I also attended the Mayor’s caucus. A long discussion took place on the mental health needs of every area of the province. Every region of the province has been affected by the closure of Provincial care facilities. Vancouver’s Mayor made comment to his “outdoor Asylum”. Every community small or large had concerns and the Mayors passed a resolution asking the province to address shortfalls in this area.
I also attended a workshop on community engagement and voter turn out. It was suggested that there is a lack of motivation to get out and vote. If you were born in the 1960’s about 70% of this group will vote when given the opportunity. If you were born in 1990’s it drops to 4 or 5% . It was also suggested that getting younger people involved in the election process will create future interest in voting. Vancouver now has forty percent of its election workers between the age of eighteen and twenty-five.
I also attended a forum with a head table of six top ministers taking questions from every area of the province. Less than one hundred delegates given the opportunity to hear from the ministers and field questions.
The convention is a commitment. Five nights away from your community and your own work. I believe it is very important to have council representation. If you do not ask for support, the Provincial government will think that you do not need their support.