PRRD directors are planning to plan better for next UBCM – or annual Union Of B C Municipalities meetings.
The PRRD will be figuring out a new way to schedule and maximize their time with provincial ministers while attending UBCM after many directors missed sessions and work while at UBCM Conference in Vancouver this year.
PRRD’s electoral area manager Crystal Brown noted that of the 40 plus topics PRRD wanted to discuss at UBCM, 13 times were in conflict with other scheduled meetings.
“Directors would have to leave the room with scheduling conflicts,” she said.
Brown gave a rundown of UBCM business, and where they didn’t go earlier this fall when the PRRD attending UBCM. When it came to getting utilities to more rural residents, the PRRD has been told it is cost prohibitive.
“The reason we met, is we are trying to expand to rural residents. Everytime we met with utilities, we were told it was too costly but never given direct information,” she said.
Brown said the BC Utilities Commission does not influence policy, but they do have a direct line of communication to the ministry.
“The River Regional District can provide up front capital funding costs for the construction of natural gas mainline extension(s), and through a service establishment bylaw, recoup those costs through taxation of the defined benefitting area, without becoming a utility or owning the infrastructure,” Brown said.
Director Leonard Hiebert said a limit of perhaps four meetings would be needed.
“I feel disconnected from the business side this year. It is hard to get my voice heard when I am not in the room.”
Mayor Lori Ackerman agreed.
“When you are not there to do UBCM business, you can be easily distracted. I think the PRRD should consider pre meetings with ministers.”
DC mayor Dale Bumstead agreed and that is was time to flip the PRRD script at UBCM in the future
“We need to identify with a need and have a core that goes to meet. Marshal that with a second trip to meet with minister and staff. Then use UBCM to follow up on these matters,” Bumstead suggested.
At UBCM, the PRRD wanted to discuss the Minister of Labour Employment Standards Act as the PRRD has questions around youth on farms and changes to employment standards.
“Nothing has changed yet. There will be a three year phase in period when it does change. At the end of the day, children will still be able to work in kitchens, pools, recreation centers, etc,” says Brown.
The PRRD also met with the Minister of Citizens' Services regarding region connectivity.
“The province cannot make private companies provide service to a particular area, but they can sign agreements with telecommunication companies where they get value added. The PRRD needs to have a regional connectivity strategy before we can apply for funding to build infrastructure,” Brown says.
“It is no secret that there are connectivity issues and want them to expand infrastructure. Perhaps we can bridge the gap.”
PRRD chair Brad Sperling said having a dozen meetings a day at UBCM makes little sense.
“By the end, you don’t know who you are even seeing, there has to be a better way.”
At future UBCM conventions, directors decided to have no more than three meetings at UBCM and to only identify three to five matters of note for discussion.