The PRRD suggested that the UBCM ask the provincial government to change regulations and legislation so that all dam permit holders would have to prepare “all-encompassing” emergency management plans. Chair Karen Goodings explains they would be required to conduct public education, develop comprehensive public notiﬁcation procedures, and assist in the coordination of emergency response and recovery efforts to ensure the safety of the public.
“We believe that it should be Hydro’s responsibility to alert downstream of any facility if there is a concern or a problem,” she says. “The way it’s worded now, it kind of leaves it to us to be our responsibility and we feel that is quite unfair.”
The resolution was passed in a block of others that were endorsed by the UBCM executive. The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality’s resolution to have UBCM ask the B.C. government to further support the development of a reliable air ambulance service in the north was also endorsed. However, Goodings warns that support at the convention does not always translate into results.
“That’s something that I think the executive of these organizations need to look at with seriousness,” she argues. “If these are important to our people and they bring them forward, and yet nothing happens with them… I think they need to follow up.”
That’s not the only part of the process that’s being criticized by local politicians. Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman also feels that too much time is spent on issues centred on a specific region.
“UBCM is supposed to be looking at issues that are provincial in nature, so when we have resolutions come to the floor that are really talking about scooters in Victoria, that is not provincial in nature,” she argues. “The local government association that we belong to – the North Central Local Government – that’s where we would be looking at that type of issue.”
She says that getting back to more widespread issues would mean more sessions on “best practices”, and how municipalities can learn from each other.
That aside, Ackerman says she took a lot away from the convention as a whole, pointing to a conversation with staff from the Ministry of Technology as a highlight. They’re looking up further upgrades to cellular service in the region, and are looking for feedback on priority areas.
“The feedback I’ve been getting, the majority is the Pine Pass,” she says, adding that she’s also heard about the highways from Chetwynd to Hudson’s Hope, to Fort St. John, and the Alberta border. “How do we ensure that when people are on the highway they’re safe travelling around?”
Ackerman says the conversation around emergency management was also beneficial to this area, talking about ensuring every local government has completed a Hazard, Risk and Vulnerability Analysis. She wants to make sure the community is as prepared as possible and has systems in place to reduce the impact of humans in the event of an emergency.
Goodings also took great interest in a discussion on genetically engineered plants and animals, saying she has mixed feelings, but believes the province should be looking at the issue in depth.