I found the UBCM convention very informative; the amount of information and training available there is both astounding and staggering.
I brought five items forward for ministerial meetings:
- Gas tax funding for small catchment fire departments and brigades.
- Creek/stream and culvert replacement and the need to change from permitting to regulatory system.
- Funding for flood mitigation (Park Rill study plan).
- Inclusion of the involved RDOS Directors in any further discussions on the national park reserve proposal.
- Non local traffic on narrow agricultural roads. (We did not get this meeting as we were not granted any meetings with MOTI on any subjects that I am aware of.)
At the request of the chair I also attended a private function on bio solids disposal. This may provide an alternative solution to the issue of a regional composting site/facility. More on this later if it proves out.
I also was invited by Mayor Johansen to attend the community safety meeting and the siphon repair meeting. I would like to thank Mayor Johansen very much for inclusion in these two, it was very thoughtful.
I also took all of my issues and the siphon repair to my meetings with the official opposition.
I would like to discuss how the town was represented at the UBCM by the mayor, three councilors and a staff member (their CAO), so they can attend much more than area “C” which is represented by myself alone; even though we are close to the same populations our concerns do not overlap on all issues and the town by nature has much more to cover. The regional district CAO was only available for two days and the area directors are singularly responsible to identify and address the needs of their respective areas, with which we get as much help as our staff can give to any one area. A monumental effort is given by our chairperson to help and support us and she also represents area “E”. MLA Linda Larson must also be highly commended as she attended all the meetings that she possibly could for all the towns and regional areas she covers and was familiar with the issues at hand; I cannot thank her enough, her support was much appreciated.
Now to my report:
I covered all of my concerns with the official opposition and gave them copies of my presentations; I also provided them with a copy of the siphon repair plan. I provided the town and the opposition with copies of the “Area “C” Agricultural Plan that includes a synopsis of the economic effect of area “C” agriculture on the local economy, this is dated but still very impressive. Like Mayor Johansen, I feel that even with as much push as possible from the Provincial Government nothing will happen without a change in federal government. We just do not seem to be important to the current administration in this riding but the province was firm in its support and realizes the importance of this issue as does the official opposition.
Park Rill flood mitigation funding. This was the first item I attended and it turned out to be a forum more than a meeting. The province has set up a disaster mitigation study headed up by George Abbott. The focus of this study was more to forest floor fuel reduction problems caused by venting index regulations and the need to proceed to prevent more serious problems. Little if anything on flood mitigation was included in this. I made a point to bring this to his attention and will be following up but the focus was not to the need for funding, so I will have to pursue this through other channels.
Inclusion of the bordering Area Directors in further national park discussions and negotiations should the park proposal move forward. I was pleased that the ministry had done its homework on my request and is now aware that the federal government failed in recognizing local governments in these talks; as this is new ground for them and as this type of park has not been proposed for an agricultural area of this type before now, this according to national park spokesperson Sarah Boyle. There was understanding of the potential for conflicts to arise here if not properly addressed beforehand. The indication was that they would support having the four affected local directors meaningfully involved in future discussions. This was also supported by the official opposition. I will wait to see the outcome but will keep up the push in the meantime.
Gas tax funding for small catchment fire departments. The current regulations do not allow the use of gas tax monies for this purpose. The use of these funds is set and controlled by the federal government. Strong support to include these fire departments, I am assured, will come from both the Provincial Government and the official opposition.
Creek, stream and culvert maintenance and restoration permit process. Land owners who are unfortunate enough to have a creeks and/or streams cross their property suffer personal damage during flood events and have the potential for legal liability if the creek or stream is not maintained, should this cause damage elsewhere. The permitting system currently in place is both onerous, lengthy, and filled with nonessential details and conditions that add tremendous costs, delays, and future liabilities to projects that need to be done in a timely manner. This system has been held up as necessary to provide environmental protections. As many of these creeks and streams are ephemeral, in that they do not normally run year round or sometimes for years at a time, the environmental studies being demanded are at best abstract if not totally unnecessary. While I agree strongly with environmental protection it cannot come at the expense, safety, or protection of the residents and their private property. The same applies to the replacement of culverts removed during abnormal flood events to prevent plugging and overflowing. As these are actions that return the area back to its original condition the current requirement for extensive engineering studies is ludicrous; and as new ground is not being disturbed the need for archeological studies is redundant. As an example the cost to replace a culvert that would allow one farmer to access his farm land was in excess of $20,000.00 and to date the permit has still not been granted.
I have requested that these issues be removed from permitting requirement and made regulatory instead.
I would like to thank MLA Linda Larson here for bringing specific case documentation to the table that was received with interest by the ministry. We have been assured that this will be considered and that they were unaware of the difficulties here.
Non local traffic on agricultural roads. As I stated earlier the RDOS was not able to get a meeting with MOTI on any of the issues in the area much less this one. I am disappointed with this ministry and I believe that we should be contacting the Office of the Premier and the UBCM board on this to ensure that we do not receive such a dismissive attitude in the future. All of the issues were safety related which makes this dismissal so disturbing to me. Let me be clear that at the local level we have a good relationship with the local area managers and they are very helpful, the disconnect is at the provincial level where funding and policy changes can be addressed.
At issue for me on this I was requesting both warning and behavioral signage on these roads, and then reassessment in the future.
I did speak to some other directors on the topic and was informed that many are having issue with sport bicycles; as is the case with many things the problems are caused by a small few who behave with a sense of total entitlement, in that rules of the road do not apply to them. The concern for all I spoke with was to not penalize the conscientious and law abiding because of the few. Education and enforcement of current regulations will help considerably and setting policy to move toward separate segregated bike lanes would be the safest end goal for all. It was felt that a portion of this cost would have to be carried by the sport bike community.
The other issue that was brought up was the non-adherence to highway event usage permits. With the return of The Iron Man Penticton event and the existing Grand Fondo, I will be researching this as I understand that Pemberton was not happy with the process there.
Resolution voting. I did manage to attend some of the resolution votes, the index for these alone was eight pages. These included, stay and defend property and livestock during emergency evacuations (supported), Permit resupply for stay and defend (supported), Funding for needle and condom clean up (supported) to list a few. There were numerous others and next time I will document my actions, now that I am familiar with the system.
No I did not attend the Chinese reception.
Other topics. These include many topics on agriculture and the protection of small farms, Bistros in fruit stands, costs of spiraling regulations pertaining to food handling, irrigation costs and water supply, and generally carbon taxes, electricity costs both urban and rural, ICBC costs, logging and sawmill crisis, cannabis regulations, and many more.
The trade show portion is an enormous event that covers many items and services such as; large scale asset management systems, road safety innovations, firefighting, and educational topics. From that last one had a meeting with a representative for women in the trades. I am very supportive of the trades for both genders but women are often not informed as to the possibilities here. My hope is that inclusive organizations like Air Cadets or school councilors reach out to me for contact information.
The nine regional district areas were represented by seven directors and one staff member, the CAO who was only available for two days. Two directors felt any issues they had were being covered by others and did not attend not wishing to waste money. We all have to thank the RDOS staff for the immense effort it took to research, organize, and schedule in order to help us navigate this affair. They were outstanding on all levels.
Did you receive good value? That will be for you to decide but this was the venue for your voices to be heard and I look forward to doing so again next year.
Regional Director RDOS area “C”