Convention 2023

Wednesday, September 20

Coast Salish song and dance group, Tsatsu Stalqayu (which translates to Coastal Wolf Pack) performed a welcome song for the opening ceremony of the UBCM annual meeting. 

Resolutions and Executive elections kicked off today, with more to come of both. View more scenes from today here

Join the conversation online at #UBCM23

Feature address by UBCM President Jen Ford

When UBCM President Jen Ford addressed the gathered delegates this morning at the official opening ceremony of UBCM 2023 Convention, she spoke of a relationship between the Province and local governments that is always in flux. 

Getting it right really is a balancing act, she said, referencing the theme of this year’s Convention. It’s about negotiating the right mix of powers between the province and local government—something that is never settled, but moves like a pendulum. 

“I believe British Columbians are better served when the province’s focus is on empowering local government. Give us the powers & responsibility along with the tools necessary and we will deliver,” she said.  

The future of forests in BC

The dramatic impact climate change is having on BC’s landscapes are being felt intensely in our forests, impacting the ecosystem, biodiversity, forest-reliant economies, and more.  

Lead scientist in the Ministry, Colin Mahoney spoke to a crowded room on the research his team is working on to adapt our forests for climate change. But he cautioned that adaptation can only go so far if climate change is not brought to equilibrium. 

“There's a lot we can do in forest policy and community action to make our forest and communities safer, but all these efforts will be futile if we don't stabilize our climate,” he said. “Since most of our greenhouse gases come from fossil fuels, that means that we need to phase out fossil fuels as rapidly as possible to stabilize the climate. We need to decarbonize our economy by 2050, as committed by the BC government.”

Here’s what else he had to say: 

“Forest fires have burned through decades of land use plans we spent years developing,” said Eamon O’Donoghue, the associate deputy minister in the Ministry of Forests. The burns have added urgency to changes already underway in the way the Ministry undertakes forest planning.

“If we don’t change our land management after this year, nature will do it for us whether we like it or not," O’Donoghue said.

For decades, land use planning for timber harvest areas have been done by companies who hold the timber leases, with limited input from the neighbouring communities. That’s changing with the Ministry’s new process, Forest Landscape Plans (FLP), that repatriates the process to communities, with inherent collaboration with First Nations. FLPs have a focus on co-governance, biodiversity, and a smooth transition for forest-based economies.

Leader of the BC Green Party calls for better local government engagement

All week, while sessions and panels are ongoing, local government leaders are rushing from meeting room to meeting room for quick, 15-minute meetings with Provincial Ministers and senior staff. 

BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is calling for a better way for the Province to engage with local governments throughout the year. 

“I'm hearing more this year than I've heard in any year I've been at UBCM, a level of frustration with the provincial government with the fact that these solutions keep being brought forward and kind of left on the table,” she said. 

Hear more from Sonia here:

Special resolutions on 911 levy, toxic drug crisis supports and decriminalization endorsed 

The first session of resolution voting occurred Wednesday morning. There was some good debate for the five special resolutions, including adding a levy to cell phones to help fund 911 services in BC. If implemented as UBCM members have now recommended, this monthly charge would match the existing levy on land lines. The shift away from land lines has meant 911 funding has dropped in recent years. 

A special resolution calling for immediate investment in services to support the toxic drug crisis was endorsed, as well as a resolution calling on the government to expand decriminalization restrictions. 

View the full results here. Resolution debate and voting will continue Thursday at 8:55am in Exhibition Hall A, immediately following an address from the Leader of the Opposition. 

Next UBCM President acclaimed

Introducing the next President of the Union of BC Municipalities, Trish Mandewo. Trish is a Councillor in the City of Coquitlam, and served as UBCM 1st Vice President this year. No other candidates were nominated for President, so Trish is acclaimed as President. She will be formally installed on Friday morning. 

Electoral Area Director, Art Kaehn from the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George has been acclaimed as the next UBCM 1st Vice President. 

Elections for the remaining 11 positions of the UBCM Executive are ongoing, online. Delegates will have received an email with access credentials. 

Minister of Municipal Affairs, Anne Kang addressed delegates Wednesday. She offered a review of programs and projects the Ministry has invested in across the province.

UBCM in the News

The Times Colonist reported on the health impacts of wildfires, and comments by Health Minister Adrian Dix that British Columbians will be dealing with related health impacts for “decades to come”. The Vancouver Sun reported on the need for the province to step up wildfire mitigation. CTV reported on a new study that estimates that British Columbia’s renters are paying roughly 20 percent more than they otherwise would have due to the impact of short-term rentals. The province has committed to bringing in legislation this fall to regulate short-term rentals based on a UBCM report.

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