A bevy of resolutions proposed by Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors was passed the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention, including one on land use planning consultation that was folded into a priority demand by the union’s executive.
The SCRD was one of four local governments that submitted a resolution asking the province to be more inclusive when it comes to matters discussed between the province and First Nations.
In the SCRD’s case, they asked that local governments be included in land use planning discussions with First Nations, referencing a new modernized land use planning process that is underway between the province and shíshálh Nation, which recognizes local governments as stakeholders but not as partners in the early stages of such processes.
UBCM contended that “local governments are recognized in the Community Charter
as an order of government and as such consultation is a key principle defining the local-provincial relationship,” and that “UBCM expects early opportunity for engagement in matters of mutual interest, such as land use planning.”
That key resolution was passed with “minimal debate,” at the gathering of local governments, held at the Vancouver Convention Centre from Sept. 23 to 27, according to SCRD chair Lori Pratt.
Pratt said directors also brought up the issue with the Ministry of Natural Resources (FLNRORD), which is taking the lead on land use planning, as well as the Ministry of Indigenous Relations (MIRR).
“We need to be able to hear so we can help with the conversation,” she said, adding that ministers and staff “need to be mindful of that when making decisions in Victoria.”
Among other SCRD resolutions endorsed at the convention were ones related to alternative transportation, parking enforcement in rural areas, logging in the urban interface, and the declaration of a climate emergency.
Two ferries resolutions were also endorsed – one that seeks additional sailings and reduced wait times, and one that asks BC Ferries to “explore expanding
their mandate to include dedicated foot passenger ferry service.”
Representatives from the Sunshine Coast’s two municipalities also attended the convention.
Gibsons Coun. Aleria Ladwig said a meeting with Transportation Minister Claire Trevena, which was attended by local government representatives from throughout the Sunshine Coast, was also productive.
“I was really impressed and proud of us as a region that we all came together and met with the minister of transportation and lobbied for hourly ferry service before we get the hourly program that is coming in 2024 – even it’s just using our old boats,” Ladwig said. “We’re tired of just having this two-hour service. And if they couldn’t provide that we’d push more for the foot passenger option as a green model that they should be piloting here on the Sunshine Coast, at least until the 2024 revamp comes through.”
Coun. David Croal said a “speed dating” session with companies, groups and agencies offering funding and other support for local governments led to some positive reaction from the Island Coastal Economic Trust on a plan he’s involved with to mark significant anniversaries for the Beachcombers TV show, which he worked on as part of the crew. Two milestones in particular are the 30th anniversary of the wrap party and the 50th anniversary of the debut. “They were gung-ho to work with us on that project,” he said.
Mayor Darnelda Siegers said Sechelt council put in 10 requests to meet with ministers – far more than usual – and got eight. She also said for the first time the SCRD, Gibsons and Sechelt shared their meeting schedules so they could send representatives to each other’s meetings.
“It was noted by the ministers and ministerial staff that we were coming together... We came away from this week saying that next year we’ve got to do more of this.”
However, UBCM doesn't make it easy to set up a regionally focused meeting with a minister because only 15-minute meetings are allowed. Siegers said they hope to work with UBCM organizers to find a way to have longer, combined meetings on shared initiatives and concerns.
– With files from Sean Eckford