The Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) has formally adopted an emergency resolution urging the province to support the creation of a comprehensive management plan for Howe Sound.
But it took some last minute manoeuvring by West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull to make it happen, Ruth Simons, executive director of the Future of Howe Sound Society, said in an interview from last week’s UBCM convention in Vancouver.
Proposed by the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), the resolution ran into a snag after an incorrect version appeared in the UBCM resolutions book. In response, Simons said, the SCRD had copies of the correctly worded resolution printed on handout sheets — topped by four reasons that made the issue urgent — and Turnbull and other directors distributed them on the chairs of voting delegates.
On Friday, Sept. 20, the convention’s last day, the resolution was quickly passed.
“It’s so exciting,” Simons said minutes after the vote. “It’s really amazing.”
Simons said both the passage of the resolution and the upshot of a meeting at the convention with Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson spelled “excellent news for Howe Sound.”
During the meeting, she said, Thomson ruled out a moratorium on existing projects, but agreed to commit staff time to start discussions about planning for Howe Sound.
“Minister Thomson did state to the 18 municipal and regional district representatives present in the room that he personally did not want to see the recovery of marine life in Howe Sound go backwards,” Simons said.
The gains made at UBCM came in advance of a Howe Sound Community Forum, held Sept. 25 in the District of West Vancouver, where Howe Sound planning was slated to be on the agenda.
Simons said a new resolution would call for both federal and provincial support for the management plan process.
“The SCRD has taken up the lead in coming up with the wording,” Simons said, quoting the UBCM resolution that calls for “a coordinated land and marine use planning process between First Nations, senior and local governments, and other local bodies to ensure ongoing recovery and responsible land use planning within Howe Sound.”
In other resolutions at the UBCM convention, delegates voted unanimously to demand an extra 90 days to negotiate terms for the Multi-Material BC recycling program.
SCRD chair Garry Nohr called the resolution “very significant,” predicting it’s “a given” that the province will extend the deadline by 90 days.
Delegates also passed an SCRD resolution calling for an audit of the effectiveness of UBCM resolutions, since “provincial responses to UBCM resolutions are frequently unresponsive or unsatisfactory.”
“Things keep coming back every year,” Nohr said, “and the feeling is that there’s got to be something better done to make sure the province follows through.”
Among defeated resolutions was one from the City of Victoria urging the province to make 40 km/h the default municipal speed limit.
“That got defeated heavy-duty,” Nohr said.
A resolution calling for the licensing of scooters was also shot down.
Nohr said SCRD delegates met with Housing Minister Rich Coleman during the convention, pressing him for funding for a cold weather shelter on the Coast and to expand the Arrowhead Clubhouse program.
“He pointed out that both of these were important issues and he’ll see what he can do,” Nohr said.
The province also promised action on the derelict vessels issue and will work with SCRD staff to improve cell phone conductivity from Langdale to Egmont by eliminating drop areas.
“I think that’ll be a big plus if we get it,” Nohr said.
In general, he said, “the regional district did very well” at the convention and “covered a lot of ground.”