Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula, regional district chair Edwin Grieve and other Comox Valley delegates discussed funding possibilities for a number of local projects with Premier Christy Clark and various cabinet ministers at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention last week in Vancouver.
• The proposed north connector that would link Veterans Memorial Parkway to the Inland Island Highway with Transportation Minister Todd Stone;
• Supportive housing options at Braidwood Road in East Courtenay with Deputy Premier/Minster Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman;
• Possible funding to operate a palliative care unit at St. Joseph’s General Hospital with Clark.
Perhaps the biggest news locally was winning the issue of multiple zoning classifications for commercial properties (C6), which means the “little guy would pay a smaller amount than the bigger guys” (box stores), Jangula said.
A proposed increase from three to four years in municipal election terms also passed, meaning the UBCM will ask the Province to consider the concept.
“We’re the only province in Canada that doesn’t do that apparently,” Jangula said.
In a hotly contested vote at the 2010 convention, delegates opposed a proposed term increase by a 354-280 vote.
Also attending the convention was Comox Mayor Paul Ives, who spoke against a City of Victoria resolution calling for a lowered speed limit of 40-km/h on residential streets. It did not pass.
Ives notes additional signage costs that would result from a lower default speed.
“For rural communities like us that would be a big cost,” he said. “They (delegates) felt enforcement and education are the most important parts of speed legislation.”
Resolutions passing from Cumberland included aquifer mapping for proposed mining projects, and private managed forest land assessment and consultation.
Clark announced a mandate to continue working on four-laning the Trans Canada Highway from Kamloops to the Alberta border, and to start work on a bridge to replace the George Massey (Deas) Tunnel south of Vancouver by 2017. She said the tunnel is the biggest traffic bottleneck in Canada.
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Mayor Paul Ives had a follow-up meeting with the BC Ambulance Service about the temporary stationing of an ambulance behind Comox Town Hall.
“That has proven to be a very good thing for the BC Ambulance Service,” he said. “They’ve reduced their response times over the last number of years and they’re quite happy with that arrangement.”
At the 2010 convention, he had met with the service to discuss the idea of locating an ambulance on the Comox side of the water. The idea had been a key concern of the town’s previous mayor, Jim Brass, but was sidelined due to labour dispute issues.
Ives said the service will maintain the makeshift station as long as possible. Provincewide, it also intends to use the model of stationing cars in the community rather than constructing full ambulance stations.
Ives also had a follow-up meeting with BC Hydro, with whom the Town has worked to complete a three-year project on Guthrie Road where Hydro installed additional capacity.
Ives also credits BC Hydro for removing poles alongside Knight Road to facilitate safer aircraft traffic.