Seven elected officials from the Comox Valley were among 1,600 municipal leaders at the recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference in Winnipeg.
Comox Mayor Paul Ives, and Couns. Ken Grant and Russ Arnott attended the conference. The cost per delegate was between $1,500 to $2,000. Ives feels it was “money well spent” to learn more about infrastructure funds and other innovations from cities such as Winnipeg, and to meet with elected officials from across Canada and B.C.
“At UBCM (Union of B.C. Municipalities), we also meet with staff and ministers from various government departments to advance our case for additional funding assistance,” he said.
Mayor Larry Jangula did not attend.
“I don’t feel it’s fair to the taxpayer to attend them all, and I find much of their agenda is not municipal government issues,” Jangula said.
Courtenay councillors Bob Wells, Erik Eriksson, Manno Theos and Doug Hillian made the trip to Winnipeg.
“There was a very positive atmosphere at this conference based on the success influencing the federal agenda on infrastructure investment, although there was a concern that the feds need to get the money out to local governments,” Hillian said. “As such, the prime minister’s speech highlighting that the feds should not encumber municipalities in the decision-making process was well received.”
Cumberland did not send a delegate to FCM due to the expense, but the entire council will attend UBCM, September in Victoria.
“This is the way that members of council get to speak to other communities, and network and learn about issues in other communities…How they solved their issues that we could be dealing with in our own community,” Mayor Leslie Baird said. “The other important part is we set up meetings with ministers and ministry staff to discuss issues and concerns that we have and are dealing with.”
A large focus at this year’s FCM conference was the impact of federal infrastructure investments in cities and communities. The first phase of a federal plan includes an $11.9 billion investment in public transit, housing, clean water and other priorities.
Ives said resolutions from UBCM that passed at FCM include a national homelessness strategy, a national day for honouring truth and reconciliation, and a national pharmacare program.
Hillian notes another resolution that passed supports federal targets on climate change from the Paris Accord.