COLUMN: Value in attending UBCM convention

Recently there has been some debate on the merits of mayors and council attending the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention

Recently there has been some debate on the merits of mayors and council attending the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention that this year was held in Victoria.

From my past experience there is value in attending UBCM and I will provide a few examples to illustrate why.

For residents of the South Okanagan there have been few projects of greater importance than the critical need for the expanded new patient care tower for the Penticton Regional Hospital.

As previous and current elected officials can attest to, several past UBCM conventions provided the opportunity to meet directly with the respective ministers of health and senior health bureaucrats to explain the need for this project, present studies, and ultimately to get this project on the provincial radar screen.

This work was critical and I can state that by the time I was elected as an MLA and subsequently a member of Treasury Board this project was well known and the challenge was to prioritize funding as opposed to justifying the need for the expansion.

I can state with certainty that previous UBCM meetings on this project were of great importance in making this important expansion a reality.

The same can also be said for West Bench water expansion, affordable seniors housing in Peachland and increased affordable housing for families in Penticton. All of these much needed initiatives were advanced, communicated and promoted at previous UBCMs.

What was on the agenda for this year’s UBCM?

A few examples of meetings held include a new water treatment plant in Peachland, improved mental health services for youth in the region, a South Okanagan KVR trail, road maintenance in unincorporated communities and affordable housing in Okanagan Falls.

While this is not a complete list of meetings it does illustrate the range of topics that were discussed.

Whether or not a municipality should send all members or a partial presentation is a fair question and is a decision ultimately for a Mayor and council to decide upon.

While on the topic of UBCM the subject of recall for municipal politicians has also been a matter of some debate and I would like to clarify my position on this topic.

For the record I support recall for municipal politicians such as mayors and members of city council, school trustees and regional district directors.

Some have criticized the fact that I did not attempt to implement this policy at the recent UBCM in Victoria and I would like to address these comments.

As much as I support municipal recall legislation it is also my opinion that one level of government should not dictate these terms to another level of government.

For example when British Columbia adopted recall legislation for an MLA, it was not dictated to do so by the federal government, whom it should be pointed out, has no recall legislation for an MP.

B.C. recall legislation was rightfully introduced, debated and passed within the B.C. Legislature by MLAs.

In my view municipal recall legislation should also follow this course where it should be introduced as a motion at UBCM, debated and ultimately voted upon, not unlike the process how municipal terms were extended from three years to four years.

Our main office is located at #210 – 300 Riverside Dr., Penticton and our staff also attends locations in Summerland and Peachland on a weekly basis.

Please contact us at 250-487-4400 for further information.

Dan Ashton is the MLA for Penticton.