British Columbia

10 topics at this year's UBCM you should know about

Every year, municipalities across B.C. gather and debate what issues they will collectively lobby the provincial government on. Here are ten of them.

Cannabis revenue sharing, affordable housing and reconciliation among big issues on the agenda

Delegates to the 2018 Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention will have many resolutions to vote on. (Shutterstock)

If your idea of fun is hundreds of politicians debating hundreds of arcane resolutions in a giant convention hall for a week, you might want to head to Whistler next month. 

The program for the 2018 Union of B.C. Municipalities conference has been released, detailing all of the topics local politicians will be discussing with one another over the course of five days beginning Sept. 10.

In total, 205 resolutions were submitted by various municipal groups.  

"We will need to be efficient in how we debate the resolutions, and they're all important," said UBCM president Wendy Booth.

"But it's really an important time for local governments to show what's important in their communities." 

The UBCM will lobby the provincial government on resolutions which are passed during the convention. Here are ten to keep an eye on. 

Cannabis

While full cannabis legalization coming on Oct. 17, there are several details left to be determined — and municipalities have several opinions on how the gaps should be filled. 

Resolution B7 asks the UBCM to lobby Health Canada so it notifies municipalities every time it approves an application to grow medicinal cannabis, B71 asks for a full moratorium on using Agricultural Land Reserve lands for cannabis production, and several resolutions ask the province to give municipalities a 50/50 share from provincial tax revenue gained from cannabis. 

Greyhound replacement

The decision of Greyhound Canada to end bus service in western Canada has left many smaller communities wondering what could be an alternative. 

A special resolution will be put forward by the UBCM executive on the subject, while a special session will be devoted to "what actions can be taken by private operators, regulatory agencies, federal, provincial and local governments to fill the void."

Removing officials

Currently, there's no way to recall or remove a local politician, no matter what the situation. 

The issue was brought to light last year after Pitt Meadows Coun. David Murray was convicted of committing sexual assault in 1992 but took several days to announce his resignation.

Resolutions B83 and B84 ask the UBCM to lobby the government to pass legislation that would disqualify local government officials from office when convicted of "a serious criminal offence."

Trampoline park regulations

The death of a 46-year-old Victoria father in January after an accident at a Richmond trampoline park highlighted how fast the industry was growing — and how dangerous it could be.

There are currently no regulations for trampoline parks in B.C., so resolution B165 asks the province to "implement safety standards for trampoline parks, and that Technical Safety B.C. assume regulatory responsibility for the safe installation and operation of all trampoline parks."

Resolution B165 calls for specific safety standards for trampoline parks.

Don't feed the wildlife

How human and animal interact in the wild — and if government regulation makes any sense — is a frequent topic of conversation at the UBCM. But one of the more interesting resolutions this year is B117, submitted by the East Kootenay Regional District, that aims to lobby the provincial government to ban the feeding of all "problem wildlife."

The definition of "problem wildlife" isn't specified, but the resolution says a law is needed because "conservation or other officers have no authority to control, enforce, or educate the public about problems caused by the intentional feeding of wildlife."

Fees for the backcountry

Have you noticed that the number of people on certain picturesque trails has grown in recent years?

You're not alone. The most famous example of additional people (and garbage) is at Joffre Lakes, near Pemberton. 

The municipality has put forward resolution B72, which asks the province to increase funding for maintenance and staffing of trails. But it also asks "that a trail booking and reservation system fee structure be developed to mitigate day-to-day impacts to the natural environment."

The Joffre Lakes trailhead just north of Pemberton is often swamped with people who have parked cars on the side of the highway for hundreds of metres on either side. (Echo Culture/YouTube)

Reconciliation 

The removal of the John A. Macdonald statue from Victoria's city hall brought into sharp focus how different municipalities are dealing with reconciliation and improving relationships with local First Nations.

"It's important work. I think back years ago, to when communities didn't talk to each other. A lot of the hurdles that communities had to overcome," said Songhees Chief Ron Sam, who will be taking part in a panel during the conference. 

Resolution B23 asks the province to develop funding programs to help First Nations reconciliation and relationship building efforts, while resolution B150 asks for funding to support "implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action."

Affordable housing 

There are a number of resolutions devoted to asking the province for more help with housing, including building more units for seniors (B55) and co-ops (B56). 

But there are also several forums and workshops devoted to how municipalities can incentivize and partner with non-profits to build housing. 

"It's a very complex issue. There's a number of different facets, and each local government addresses it in a different ways," said Booth, explaining why there were so many different resolutions and workshops. 

Covenants 

In the 20th century, land owners in B.C. sometimes tried to keep minorities from buying their properties through the use of covenants.

While the Land Title Act makes the discriminating covenants void, resolution B133 from Squamish asks the province for specific legislation that allows a local government to directly ask a court to remove any covenant. 

Daylight time

Last year, the UBCM passed a resolution asking the province to consult with people about abolishing daylight saving time, but the province chose to do nothing.

A resolution from a Hudson's Hope councillor — who lives in the area of B.C. that does not observe the practice — goes a step further this year, directly asking for the abolition of the annual time change.

"When he has a lot of contact with the Lower Mainland during the time we have an hour difference in our time, it impedes efficiency," said Hudson's Hope Mayor Gwen Johansson. 

The Peace River Regional District has long ignored daylight time, and one councillor from Hudson's Hope would like the rest of the province to join them.

Read more from CBC British Columbia

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said the convention would begin Oct. 10. In fact, it will begin Sept. 10.
    Aug 17, 2018 7:00 AM PT

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