by Loranne Martin, Mayor of McBride
All of Council and the new CAO attended the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) at the end of September.
Council requested meetings with the Premier and every new minister at this year’s UBCM. Meeting with the new government was the perfect opportunity to introduce McBride and the Robson Valley and bring the new Ministers up to speed on Council’s initiatives to move the community forward.
We met with the following ministers:
Minister of Education: to discuss rural and remote representation on the School District Board and to request that the Province look at changing the funding formula for rural and remote schools which leaves our students and their education at a disadvantage. Council also took the time to discuss the importance of having the schools within the context of attracting residents, business and professionals to the Valley.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: to discuss the lack of and the desire to create affordable housing and/or seniors’ housing and intermediate care in McBride. Council also updated the Minister on the CASE project. The Minister was interested in the concept. The Minister also suggested we speak with the Minister of Health, we met with staff and relayed the same information.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture: discussed tourism in the Robson Valley and grant funding for small communities. Council also met with a representative from Destination BC to discuss the hotel room tax.
Minister of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources: brought the new Minister up to speed on the community forest, the BKB fire and discussed the softwood lumber agreement. We discussed the future of the Rural Dividend program and the positive impact that program has had for projects in our Valley and the need to continue this type of funding for rural communities.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy: to discuss cross promotional kiosks at the Ancient Cedar Forest, Mt. Robson and Jackman Flats Park and raised our concerns with the lack of financial support for recycling in rural communities, which had caused many recycling centres throughout the province to shut down.
Council submitted the topics of Assisted Living and Rural Schools to the Small Talk Forum. Both subjects were accepted and included on the agenda and Councillors Hruby and Thompson addressed the delegates. I attended the Mayors Forum, the main topic of discussion was the proposed Code of Conduct and responsible conduct of elected officials. The resolution was passed by the UBCM members.
Council also attended the Natural Resource forum presentations on forestry, mining and energy. Presentations centred on the Softwood Lumber agreement, the effects of the BC wildfires on the forest industry, the importance of the oil and gas industry and natural resource industries to the provincial economy, and the Site C dam. A question was raised as whether BC Hydro or the Province would be perusing geothermal development. It appeared that geothermal is on the radar but in its infancy stage.
We were unable to get a meeting with the Minister of Transportation to discuss connecting trail from McBride to the Teare Mountain Trail network.
It was an important opportunity to meet with the new Ministers and I believe that McBride’s information was well received by government officials and staff.
MLA Shirley Bond was able to attend most of our meetings with the ministers, which was greatly appreciated.