There is value in civic representatives’ attendance of regional, provincial and national events. Whatever the location, there is usually something worthwhile to be drawn from the experience even if it may take a while to put it into practice.
Annual Union of BC Municpalities (UBCM) conventions and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference held in Niagara Falls, if nothing else, give the local reps a chance to find out how common issues are handled in other jurisdictions. In the case of the most recent (last week in May) national meeting, it also gave Castlegar the chance to be held up as an example of how positive work is being done in an important field.
Mayor Lawrence Chernoff shared some of the aspects of a presentation he made to about 600 people at the conference. He did so in a verbal report to city council during the June 9 meeting.
The topic was climate change and what can be done at the municipal level to mitigate its impact.
A presenter from Halifax also spoke, along with Don Forgeron, President and CEO, Insurance Bureau of Canada and Shawn Tupper, Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Safety Canada.
Here’s the session summary as contained in the FCM program:
“From unpredictable seasons and rising sea levels to extreme weather and invasive species, climate change is impacting communities across Canada. Learn why your community must adapt to our changing and increasingly unstable climate. Hear how local governments are planning and implementing adaptation measures. Discover resources,and national programs to help your community build its resilience to climate change.”
Steering clear of overly specific details, Mayor Chernoff spoke on June 10 of the experience.
“I think the number one highlight is how we’re doing the right things in our community, and how we’re helping the smaller communities in our surrounding areas. We’re developing plans and I think that’s the big thing, because climate change is going to be over a long term.” Storm water management was high on Chernoff’s list of steps looked at locally.
The mayor stressed the importance of preparing for extremes which are now more likely than ever. He also suggested that older, traditional models of what to expect in the way of weather patterns not be taken as gospel.
“It’s the same with the conservation of water,” he stated. “How much snow melt we get… how much flooding, those kinds of things. We’re really building for the future.”
What it boiled down to for Chernoff, was the need for thoughtful cooperation between big and small communities in whatever climate-related initiatives are taken. The flip side is that too many smaller communities are doing nothing at all.
“They don’t think it’s affordable to do it,” he concluded. “Without partnerships you just can’t accomplish anything.”
Following the first city council meeting since returning from the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Niagara Falls, Councillor Gord Turner spoke with the Castlegar News on the experience and some of its highlights.
The get-together ran during the last week in May, and in Turner’s opinion offered a fresh batch of information for civic officials, some they might have gone a while without finding out about otherwise.
“We did go to a number of workshops,” said Turner as the council chambers at the Community Forum slowly emptied.
“What we discovered were the issues that seem to be important nationally, that the FCM is working on, we could focus on. Like the gas tax and how it’s being dealt with, being renewed, etc., very important to all the cities across the country.”
Turner said he appreciated a tour he had of Niagara’s so-called green belt.
“It was very interesting to see how our green areas work, in relation to a bigger place.”
Of particular significance to the councillor was input relating to environmental issues.
“The workshop I really enjoyed,” he concluded, “was the one where I went to a recycling plant… huge… 100,000 square feet or something like that. A tremendous tour through there to see exactly how it works. I was pleased to see that they actually deal with plastics… and glass.
“If that group can do it, or this group can do it… why can’t we try it? So you find out those things, you get examples.”