A pedestrian only street in Whistler

What to discuss with the Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs

The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) will be holding its 2022 convention in Whistler on September 12 -16. Local governments traditionally seek interviews with high level provincial officials. The interviews can be up to 15 minutes long and cover up to 3 topics. The SRD chose their topics at the Wednesday June 15 Board meeting.

Regional Director Jim Abram suggested that they talk about putting more funding into affordable housing.

Cortes Island Regional Director Noba Anderson, added that there was a need for more funding for community based, or local government based, or a collaboration between social profit and local government, resilience planning. 

“I think we would be very well advised to support community efforts to do deep adaptive resilience planning,” she said  

Chair Brad Unger said he’d like to sit down with the Premier to discuss forestry and aquaculture concerns.

These have been divisive issues in the past. Fish farms and forestry are two of the three economic pillars of Campbell River.  Several other Directors are supportive, but there are also Directors who take a more ‘environmental’ approach. 

Anderson proposed that this topic be dropped from the list. 

Mayor Martin Davis of Tahsis agreed, “We do have some fairly different viewpoints. I advocate for large scale forestry reform. I want to see pieces of land taken out of the Tree Farm License so that we can create community forests from them. That will require major policy changes, which may be coming anyway.  I’m not sure if everybody would be in agreement on all that. Also  I do want to see the old growth strategy push through to a good resolution.”

Three of the Campbell River Directors, who have long supported the forestry and aquaculture sectors, spoke up. 

Colleen Evans said, “I think this board has been clear in terms of support for industries that are driving the North Island economy. We had a presentation yesterday from both the forestry and the aquaculture industry,  which is science based statistical information about the impact on the island.”

Charlie Cornfield declared, “I won’t support a motion that doesn’t address forestry, whether it is in favor or in opposition. This board is made up of many different communities and many different residents. It is important that we reference all of them and don’t back away.”

To which Mayor Andy Adams added, “We know that there are diverse opinions and views on the board. While we certainly respect the differences of views, once a motion is made, that is the will of the board and it moves forward. And I would, with that, ask that the question be called.” 

The motion before the board was whether to drop fish farms and forestry from the list of topics to be discussed with the province

The hybrid virtual/in-person vote itself was confusing. It had to be taken twice, with much discussion throughout the process, but the final result was clear.  

Five Directors (Jim Abram, Noba Anderson, Gerald Whalley, Kevin Jules and Martin Davis) voted in favour of dropping forestry and aquaculture from the list of topics to be brought before Premier Horgan and the MInister of Municipal Affairs.

Seven Directors voted against removing them: Andy Adams, Charlie Cornfield, Colleen Evans, Ron Kerr, Director Dahl, Brenda Leigh, Martin Baker and Brad Unger  

That brought the board back to the three original topics. 

As some confusion remained, Anderson pointed out, “Just for clarity, I think the interministerial matter that director Abram brought up was really around housing.”

However the minutes of this meeting state the board passed a motion “that a request be made with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Premier to discuss the following topics:

  1. Interministerial cooperation;
  2. Community based/social profit resiliency planning; and
  3. North Island forestry and aquaculture concerns.”

Top image credit: Whistler street scene – Photo by fujitariuji via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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