The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) held its annual conference in Vancouver from Sept. 21-25, and Rossland was represented by Mayor Kathy Moore, Councillor Andrew Zwicker and Councillor Andy Morel.
Rossland News caught up with the trio to find out how things went at the conference and what they got out of attending.
Rossland News: What was your biggest takeaway from the conference?
Mayor Kathy Moore: The importance of working together with other municipalities—like the Highway 3 Mayors’ Coalition and the Resort Municipality Initiative mayors. We get so much more attention and interest from the provincial government when we present a united voice on an issue.
Councillor Andrew Zwicker: There was an enormous number of high value take aways. It would be an unfair challenge to distill it down to just one. In that vein I would suggest the biggest takeaway could be summed up best in saying that there is an incredible number of talented, committed and hard-working, mayors, councillors and area directors in our province all working tremendously hard at making the communities we all call home a better place. While there are some common issues, primarily the ever-present and growing need for infrastructure renewal, replacement and new forward thinking progressive means of doing so, there is also an incredibly diverse range of issues affecting all communities across BC. Coming out of the week and having the opportunity to converse with many representatives from many communities, as well as listening to and chatting with a host of subject experts during and after the forums was that compared to most, Rossland is at or near the top of the pack on most issues. In terms of public engagement which many communities struggle with, Rossland is by far leading the way. On items such as self-supporting, fully-costed water and sewer Rossland is one of but a very few communities ready to implement this now. All in all, it was gratifying to see how far ahead of the general pack Rossland is on most issues, as well as very educational and interesting to hear how the other challenges communities in BC are facing and how they are approaching and solving them.
Councillor Andy Morel: The collective energy and influence available in BC municipal politicians. The fact that there were so many MPs, provincial ministers, the Premier, opposition leaders and MPs, employee unions involved in the conference as attendees or just rubbing shoulders with municipal leaders reinforces for me, the importance of the collective voices of all BC communities—big and small.
RN:What was the biggest success?
KM: Establishing rapport with ministers and ministerial staff members. I think it’s really important to be able to make those face to face contacts. It will help when Rossland needs help, assistance or advice with various issues. It was great to put a face to some of the provincial government people I’d been speaking with already.
AZ: There were several major collective successes for the union as a whole. One in which I had the pleasure of speaking directly to the conference on was the recommendation to the province to enact an environmental bill of rights. As I relayed in my speech to the crowd this is not simply an environmental issue, nor an economic issue, nor a public rights issue, it is an everything issue. If we cannot provide our citizens with clean water, air and food then nothing else we do as councils matters much at all. Conference delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion.
AM: R & D (Rob and Duplicate), a new acronym for finding solutions was coined in one of the workshops I attended. Rubbing shoulders with many other small community politicians afforded the opportunity to talk about common issues and solutions. Attending a number of informative workshops on a variety of topics from Building and Protecting Green Communities to learning about the new regulations coming in the fall under the auspices of the Offroad Vehicle Act! We are not alone!
RN: What was the biggest disappointment?
KM: As a councillor I was able to attend lots of workshops and sessions. As a mayor there are lots of other meetings that conflict with the program. Those meetings are all really good too but I really love the learning and sharing that goes on in the workshops.
AZ: The weeklong event that is UBCM is a non-stop action packed gauntlet to run from 6 a.m. to midnight everyday for five days straight. There is a massive volume of interesting and talented people to network with, a series of excellent and informative sessions, a truly enormous trade show of suppliers that are all valuable to the City and to other folks around Rossland we can pass information and contacts on to. There is also the heart of the conference in going through 160 plus motions which is essentially an enormous two day council meeting with 1800 council members to speak to, amend, and vote on the motions. If there was anything disappointing about the event it is simply that there is not enough time to do it all, so you must effectively pick and choose your schedule and sprint from meeting to meeting. It was however a fascinating and highly valuable event that I highly look forward to attending again.
AM: As a still new councillor/first time UBCM attendee, I can say that I had no substantial disappointments. It was very full days from 7 a.m. until late evening. By the end, I felt “peopled out” and appreciated the need for a rest weekend once home, but overall I was very pleased with the opportunity to represent Rossland at this provincial conference.
RN: Who was the most interesting person you met and what did you learn from them?
KM: I can’t name just one. I really enjoyed getting to know a lot of the other mayors. We all share similar challenges regardless of the size of our community.
AZ: I had the pleasure of pre-arranging a one-on-one meeting with the BC Green party including their leader Adam Olsen, MLA Dr. Andrew Weaver and party chair Bob Lorriman. We first got together along with fellow councillor Andy Morel and friend Ange Qualizza (Fernie councillor) to talk about the issue affecting Rossland and how that matched up with the Green party’s platform and plans and how we can work together on setting party strategy. The following day I was invited to grab a beer with BC NDP leader John Horgan where we again discussed Rossland’s wins, opportunities and challenges and how that fits in with the provincial NDP’s strategy. I have kept in touch with both groups post UBCM and look forward to maintaining critical relationships in Victoria to help move Rossland’s needs forward.
AM: Met a lot of interesting folks, including a meeting where fellow councillor Andrew Zwicker and I had a sit down with climate scientist, mathematician, author, MLA and deputy Green party leader, Andrew Weaver. I believe the most interesting conversations were at sit down lunch tables with fellow councillors and mayors discussing our common issues and potential solutions. Connections are of the most value in these conferences.