In a recent radio piece, one of Kamloops’s more prominent commentators slammed City councillors who attended the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, calling it “an expensive conference resulting in nothing”.
No statement could be farther from the truth.
The conference, attended by councillors and mayors from every city, town and region of the province, featured more than fifty extremely significant clinics.
The six Kamloops council members split up amongst the four or five simultaneous sessions to achieve the broadest accumulation of information and therefore, the best bang for the community buck possible.
The presentations included (among many, many other topics relevant to our community) a session on the new 20-year RCMP contract, a consideration of the possibility of online voting in the 2014 municipal elections, and planning and management for communities with railways in their midst.
I must admit that of the 40-plus sessions, some of the choices were more focused and prescribed in nature (even one that might have been of value to old newsmen themselves called Preserving B.C.’s Dinosaurs).
Then there were the resolutions.
The resolutions session provides an opportunity for municipal officials to send a strong signal to provincial and federal governments.
For example, last year a resolution was passed expressing local governments’ concern about CETA (the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement).
This proposed agreement between Canada and the European Union would have serious implications for municipal services and parameters for awarding contract bids.
The two resolutions brought forward this year by Coun. Ken Christian (on further restricting smoking in public places) and Coun. Nancy Bepple (on providing braille ballots for citizens with visual impairment) were both overwhelmingly endorsed as being timely and visionary.
Anyone who has ever attended any large conference understands that the most important and valuable feature is the networking. Why allow our community to make a mistake or miss an opportunity that could be easily discovered through a brief chat with a fellow councillor from a neighbouring community?
The banquet, attended by the vast majority of delegates is, at a $100 a pop, definitely a bit luxurious.
However, I couldn’t say for sure since I chose not to participate in it. The same held true for all Kamloops elected officials who were in Victoria for the convention.
To subscribe to the opinion that the UBCM is “not worth the time” and skip the conference, foregoing important information pertinent to all programs and areas of our city, would not only be a loss to every citizen of Kamloops, it would be simply irresponsible.
Oh, and by the way, I stayed with a friend while attending the UBCM conference and carpooled both ways, so my expenses were next to nothing, although I do eat a lot while I’m biking everywhere.
Donovan Cavers is a City councillor. He can be reached at email@example.com.