Delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention last week.

Delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention last week.

BRIEFS: Oil, marijuana, metal theft among UBCM issues

Civic delegates urge caution on smart meters, oil exports and P3 projects

Smart meter freeze urged

The campaign to defeat B.C. Hydro’s rollout of wireless smart meters got a boost from mayors and councillors at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention Friday.

Delegates voted 55 per cent to support a moratorium on the mandatory installation of smart meters until major issues can be resolved.

“There is an important element of personal choice,” Colwood Coun. Judith Cullington said. “Some people are sensitive to this radiation and only a small amount affects them.”

She said city councils across the province have been deluged in email by people deeply concerned about the possible health impacts.

Some civic leaders who supported the call for a moratorium said they don’t share fears about health risks but think other concerns deserve more attention, from the cost of the meter program to the potential to charge higher rates at peak times.

An initial show of hands was inconclusive so the final vote was conducted electronically – using wireless voting devices.

No delegates spoke against the resolution.

Premier Christy Clark said the smart meter installations will continue, despite the UBCM resolution.

Hydro crews have already installed 100,000 smart meters across B.C. and that’s to rise to 250,000 by later this fall.

“I don’t share those health concerns,” Clark said Friday.

She said B.C. needs an efficient smart grid to save money on electricity delivery and foster economic growth.

 

Medical marijuana debated

Defenders of the right to grow pot under a medical marijuana licence scored a small victory when they derailed a resolution that sought to require distribution be only through licensed commercial growers.

Several Metro Vancouver cities want tighter rules to cut down on the number of grow-ops blamed for feeding organized crime and causing safety risks.

Donna Shugar, a Sunshine Coast Regional District director, said forcing users to buy through producers might leave the poor and disabled unable to affordably get medical marijuana if they can no longer grow their own.

She said concerns about safety could instead be dealt with by reducing the number of plants a licensed user can grow.

A Metchosin rep called marijuana part of the fabric of B.C. society and said the government should “stop pussyfooting around the issue” and simply decriminalize pot.

Others said the resolution was redundant because Ottawa has already indicated its planned overhaul of the licensing system will phase out individual growing permits.

It’s the third straight year UBCM delegates have blocked resolutions demanding tighter restrictions on medical pot.

 

Private water projects opposed

UBCM delegates passed a Burnaby-sponsored resolution calling on the federal government to allow continued public ownership of water and sewer plants when doling out infrastructure grants.

Ottawa requires big local projects in line for grants to first go through a P3 assessment to see if money can be saved by building them as public-private partnerships.

The issue has been hot in the Fraser Valley, where Mission and Abbotsford councils are split over whether a shared water supply expansion should be publicly or privately built. Abbotsford is now pursuing the P3 water project itself, over Mission’s objections.

Metro Vancouver also faces decisions on the use of P3 partners as it plans to rebuild two major sewage treatment plants and add new waste-to-energy plants.

Public sector unions had urged civic reps to take the anti-P3 stand.

 

Call for casino rules overhaul

B.C. cities are demanding tougher scrutiny of gambling due to the infiltration of casinos by organized crime.

Delegates at UBCM passed a resolution that argues the provincial Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General is in a conflict of interest because it oversees both the B.C. Lottery Corp., which runs casino gambling, and the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch that regulates it.

Separate ministries should oversee those functions, according to the resolution, which also calls for a review of public gambling to restore confidence and a probe by the Auditor General into how charities benefit.

 

Oil tanker concerns lodged

Cities are demanding close scrutiny of plans to pump more oil for export through the Lower Mainland.

Kinder Morgan wants to more than double the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline that sends oil sands crude from Alberta to its terminal in north Burnaby, where oil is loaded onto tankers that sail past downtown Vancouver.

An emergency resolution passed by UBCM delegates calls for the highest degree of environmental assessment and meaningful public consultation on any plans to ship more oil by pipeline or tanker in B.C.

About 70 double-hulled oil tankers a year are harnessed to tugs and steered by local pilots through Burrard Inlet.

Kinder Morgan is also able to send oil from the pipeline south into Washington State at Sumas.

UBCM last year objected to plans by Enbridge to build its Northern Gateway pipeline across northern B.C.

 

Metal, carbon and tanning

Delegates also registered their concerns about wire theft, carbon offsets and the health risks of tanning beds.

The ongoing scourge of metal theft should be dealt with through consistent provincial rules to regulate metal dealers, recyclers and pawnshops, according to a Langley Township resolution that passed without debate. Similar resolutions were advanced by Maple Ridge, West Kelowna and Greenwood.

UBCM delegates also voted to call on the province to ban youths under 18 from using indoor tanning beds.

They also backed a call to have cities’ local emission reduction projects be counted as an acceptable purchase of carbon offsets.

Several cities object to buying carbon offsets through the province’s Pacific Carbon Trust in order to meet their commitment to reach carbon neutral status.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Boundary Mountie and suspect airlifted from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

The process of integrating Union Bay services into the regional district can now begin. Record file photo
Union Bay transfer to region targeted for July 2021

Three services will be rolled into Comox Valley Regional District

Mike Aldersey, the Port McNeill base manager for West Coast Helicopters has been awarded the prestigious Agar/Stringer Award by the Helicopter Association of Canada. (Submitted photo)
Vancouver Island pilot receives coveted helicopter industry award

Port McNeill based Mike Aldersey is the recipient of the 2o2o Agar/Stringer Award given out to select few Canadians

12-year-old Ella Smiley captured some video of orcas on a sea lion hunt on Nov. 28 at Kitty Coleman Park, just north of Courtenay. Photo by Ella Smiley
VIDEO: Orcas hunt sea lion near Kitty Coleman Park

Twelve-year-old Ella Smiley, of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings, caught up with a… Continue reading

The School District 71 DPAC hosted an online forum for candidates hoping to fill a vacant board of education position. Screenshot, SD71 DPAC Facebook page
Six make their pitch to fill empty school board seat in Comox Valley

District’s parents advisory council hosted the online forum for Area C candidates

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Letter to the editor.
LETTER – Horgan’s election promise of COVID relief cash is money foolishly spent

Dear editor, Would you dip into your child’s registered education fund to… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Most Read