SILGA – the Southern Interior Local Government Organization – rolls into Revelstoke this Thursday for a three-day convention from April 26–28. SILGA is comprised of elected officials from municipalities and regional districts in the Okanagan and Shuswap areas, and a bit beyond. The gathering allows members to network, and is an opportunity to hold official business and vote on initiatives to be brought forward at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention.
The convention also attracts representatives from the province, including Ida Chong, Minister for Community, Sport and Cultural Development; Greg Goodwin, Executive Director, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation and Deputy Minister for Community, Sport and Cultural Development Don Fast, who’ll present on the new Municipal Auditor General program.
Many Revelstokians will be given the opportunity to highlight local programs and initiatives. Revelstoke School District Superintendent Anne Cooper will present on early childhood learning. Canadian Avalanche Centre Executive Director Ian Tomm will present on the importance of avalanche safety for communities.
Three local speakers will present under a “Changing Communities” theme. Rod Kessler of Revelstoke Mountain Resort will give a presentation entitled “Expectations of a Resort Community.” Revelstoke Social Development Coordinator Jill Zacharias will present on social changes in Revelstoke. City of Revelstoke CAO Tim Palmer will present the results of his community survey.
There will be many guest speakers exploring topics of interest to local governments, such as talks on risk avoidance, insurance issues, tourism marketing, using scarce resources wisely and consultation with First Nations.
BC Hydro representatives Cindy Verschoor and Roger Goodwin will present on the provincial utility’s controversial Smart Meters program.
South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program Manager Bryn White will give a presentation on a new guidebook her organization has helped develop. It guides governments and community groups on how to effectively create nature conservation funds. “One of the tools that has … become a lot more popular in the last few years is the creation of local conservation funds, which is basically a dedicated source of funding for communities to be able to achieve conservation sustainability objectives,” White told the Times Review.
She said several municipalities and regional districts have established the funds in recent years. They’re used for various objectives, such as habitat enhancement, wildlife enhancement, securing new parks, protecting watersheds or protecting working lands. There’s an East Kootenay fund, and representatives from the West Kootenay are in discussion about aligning their objectives together.
“There is money out there to leverage for conservation – there’s not question,” White said. “It’s about really empowering constituents at the local and regional level to also be involved to support those processes.”
“It’s basically a step-by-step,” she said. “a roadmap for how groups can be working together, and it’s really at the local and regional level.”
There will be lots of other requests of the provincial government forwarded in motions. Initiatives include requests for more cold-weather homeless shelter funding, tweaked taxation revenue models, revised small community grant formulas, a halt to funding cuts to group homes for the developmentally disabled and a request to continue the Towns for Tomorrow program, amongst others.
The City of Kelowna has a resolution requesting more resources for local stream and river maintenance. The Village of Clinton wants the province to institute a payment in lieu of taxes that would require cell phone providers to kick down some funds for municipalities.
Locally, the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District wants the Government of B.C. to review its policing resource models “to ensure adequate resources are available to properly police rural communities.”
The District or Coldstream wants the Buy BC program for agricultural products reinstated. The Central Okanagan Regional District is sponsoring a resolution for more resources to expedite the prosecution of dangerous dog cases. This follows a shift of responsibility to municipalities for the matters.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District is sponsoring a motion to lobby the provincial government to prohibit the export of local government solid waste, citing the loss of jobs in the waste management business.
The Village of Ashcroft wants the province to create legislation that will enable local governments to deal with hoarders when they are “creating hazards for the residents, first responders and the neighbourhood.”
Delegates will vote on 29 resolutions. About a third focus on more funding from the province.
While in town, delegates will enjoy some golf and a banquet at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
These are just some of the speakers and events happening. For more detailed information, visit silga.ca.