Report from UBCM 2016 in Victoria

A Comprehensive and complete report from the UBCM 2016 conference in Victoria.

7AM Tuesday – Good Morning from Victoria BC!

Like last year (UBCM 2015) and the FCM, and the AVICC, I have once again live blogged and reported on the Union of BC Municipalities conference.  Enjoy!

This post was updated continuously throughout the week. The schedule was packed.  Here it all is below.

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Tuesday

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Wednesday

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Thursday

I don’t have the schedule for Friday as it was only speeches and resolutions in the main hall from 8AM until the official close of the conference at 12PM.

First, the Liability Exposure of Local Government workshop. Here is the description:

Section 744 of the Local Government Act provides immunity to local governments in relation to certain nuisance actions. However, in the face of ever changing climate conditions, broader protection for local governments is needed. Comparable legislation to the British Columbia act in Alberta provides considerably expansive protection in this regard. It would be beneficial to local governments if legislative reform to Section 744 rendered it as broad – and possibly broader – than the immunity currently granted to local governments in British Columbia.

9AM Update – Municipal Liability with severe weather (climate change) and lobbying the Province to better protect Municipalities and taxpayers.

I didn’t realize this was actually going to be a climate change related workshop… but when dealing with insurance and liability I guess I should not be surprised.  The message was clear that local governments, because of the legislation in BC (compared to somewhere like Alberta) are very exposed to being sued due to severe weather events they have no control over.

Reducing Liability Exposure for Local Gov.

– We are actually talking climate change liability risk
– Problem is Section 744 of Community Charter
– The $2 Billion Floods in Alberta – (from mostly sewer backups) – was largest insurance claim in Canada and mostly fell on local government.  However, because of Alberta legislation, they were protected and did not have to pay out.  In BC we do not have that protection.
– Local Governments in BC are sitting ducks.

Here are the main issues:

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Local government has little responsibility on first two… main liability is extreme weather.  We are now seeing 1-100 year events every 10 or so years.  Infrastructure is often built for 1-25 year simply because municipalities can’t make stuff bigger than that for cost reasons. In Alberta, that gap is covered. We must plan for future development… paving over natural drainage ways… not making sure new development does not impact downstream. Not correcting a problem when you know about. You have to maintain. Sued for negligeance most common is Sidewalk.

Here is the section:

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This will help protect from climate change, severe weather but not always, ONLY WITH BREAKDOWN OR MALFUNCTION, not capacity! (Severe flooding). Alberta has more broad protection that covers operation or non operation.

Comment: Port Alberni is not under of the BC Municipal Insurance umbrella.  Perhaps we should be if it gives us more collective influence with other majority of municipalities.

This issue is going to cost many many more times more than leaky condos.

MIABC will help Local Gov implement “get out of jail free card” in new policies. It has to be in writing and approved, and does it set out reasonable achievable resources. Not “best practice” that is unaffordable or practical and realistic. Make sure you document everything! In legislation we need to change “breakdown and malfunction” to Alberta’s “operation and non-operation”. This is the only thing that needs to change so it is simple and hopefully easy but need lobbying support from affected local governments.

700-800 Municipal Insurance claims a year… usually about 12-24 right now weather/climate related.  This year, forecasts say fewer days of rain, but more intense storms.

Note: if you are with MiABC you get unlimited number of basic consultations on tip line for $100/yr.

10AM Tuesday – Affordable housing and low wage crisis.

Even small communities are starting to lose young demographic because it is unaffordable in BC but smaller communities do have ability to pull disadvantaged millenials and gen X from lower mainland.

From a generational standard, no province has taken bigger hit in housing cost and low wages for younger generations.  Child Care is costing more than tuition… at same time that new parents are paying historically high tuition debt.

img_9039 img_9040 img_9043Solutions:

Homes first. Tax housing wealth more to slow housing price, cut income taxes. Need more rental accommodation.

Second speaker: Mayor of Quesnel Bob Simpson

$2.4 Million annual infrastructure deficit. Tax shifting from Industry to Residents, they increased taxes 7% for 4 years. We did a town hall and did a 10% incremental cut in operations.  We had to show that it was all going to infrastructure. We have not had a tax revolt and people are accepting of it because they see tangible benefit.

“We need to giveup parking in business district to create a people cemtric space”

It is about creating our own positive, progressive stories.  We are investing and making great infrastructure. We are providing a Living Wage. We are in control of our google results by doing and creating the news and creating the infrastruxture that makes it real! (Liveavle, bikeability, transit, condos and small affordable desirable living places).

2PM Tuesday – Drug-Related Overdoes: A Public Health Emergency

Dr. Perry Kendall – Chief Medical Officer

We are on track for 600 overdoses… this graph below starts in the 1990s and shows how fast it has been rising (first bump was the Vancouver crisis in 90s)img_3418

(Go to BC CDC to see a larger readable version of this image)

These deaths (below since 2007) are the tip of the iceberg because of the naxolone kit or otherwise… you can see the impact on communities (Nanaimo in list note how numbers rise).

img_3419This outbreak is happening amongst the working class, younger (under 50) and so it is in private (in homes) not in public on street.  Leads to challenges for notification and education as well as direct access to the users.  The fentanyl is being cut in with other drugs “polydrug”.

Comment: A lot of heavy slides.  They are doing a ton of work across all sectors of the public service to try to address the problem.  It truly does sound like an emergency and crisis footing.  This includes trying to get more buy-in from senior government to expand health intervention and safe injection type sites.  There is a lot of political resistance to the concept still… asks attendees to advocate for that to the province.  It is a health issue.

They are trying to build capacity and underpinning to try to make changes that will address the issue long term while “keeping people alive” with naloxone kits going to all emergency services including, soon, RCMP/Police. Trained 14,000 people so far and 2200 doses have been given across BC. (Those people could have all died!)

Mark Tyndall MD BC Centre for Disease Control

Drug Overdose is not a new issue.  Same social issues… but what has changed? Fentanyl is the opioid “currency”.  The margin of error is very small… thus deaths.  Sheer number of people on opioids has grown massively in past 10-15 years.

Started with patches (cutting up the patch into strips) by prescription and then the powdered fentanyl came in 2013. This has replaced heroine and cocaine and other opioids because it is so cheap.

“Fentanyl Kills” messaging — doesn’t work with people who are addicted.  They won’t stop without alternatives.

“Merits of Harm Reduction is not up for debate.”  (“Much like climate change”)

Many of these talking points are on the BC CDC website.

“We are downloading our medical care onto people who are least trained to do it …. friends, family, others.  Good that we now have BC Ambulance and Fire and RCMP are getting the kits but we need more support.

In all the years of safe injection site “InSite” in Vancouver, there has never been an overdose. Extremely effective way to prevent deaths and provide further support. (Social workers, nurses, etc)

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There is no where for people to go for help to get those first steps. A 6 month Waiting List for treatment is not appropriate.

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“The War on Drugs is a total failure”

Federal government is open to Harm Reduction. And Provincial government is very open to innovation.

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Communities need to make it happen on the ground.  They have the most power because they are so close to the issue.

Dr. Kerry Jang – Councillor / City of Vancouver

We as Municipal politicians need to take care of the police and fire to make sure they are supported. Look after first responders.

Call on the Health Authority “kill the naysayers with data”.  The Health authorities will work hand in hand with communities to lead.  Communities need to lead to create safe injection sites.  Latest research shows keep people independent at home is most effective. We can create health teams that will go to peoples homes.

Vancouver Healthy City Strategy – (Food, Services, Health)

Put a strategy in place so that when next crisis comes you can respond.

BC Ambulance rep QUESTION/COMMENT:

They say they have brought forward some solutions (at emergency meeting in June) but nothing has been done.

BC Fire Fighters Rep QUESTION/COMMENT:

They are doing everything they can and need and want to do more.

3:30PM Tuesday- Emergency Coastal Response Session

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Since I wasn’t able to participate in the Emergency Coastal Response exercise I wanted to make sure to get to this special session debriefing everything. Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Yamamoto is here as well. (Second right below) ACRD Chief Administrative Officer Russel Dyson is at left.

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Minister Yamamoto came up to Councillors Washington, Paulson and I and thanked us for the whole of Port Alberni and the ACRD.  It was a massive effort!

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The Minister “was struck” by the enormity of the task and complexity of the planning and operation.
img_3434400 different problems “injects” in the exercise to challenge the participants. The exercise involved all levels of government and also US FEMA and Washington State through “Cascadia Rising” exercise.

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Had 140 people just in the Keating (Victoria) facility. Do we have the facilities (provincially and otherwise) capacity to do this?

They had an objective observer and analysis (from Alaska) done to see how the exercise went and will deliver a full “After Action” report with recommendations in coming months.img_3436Many moving parts and goals in the exercise.

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Recurring theme:  There was a need for more capacity from a human standpoint.  People were starting to get tired and fatigued. Emergency Operations found they were looking very short term, hours and day time frame rather than looking out to Day 4, 5 or 6.  Operational Communications came away realizing how important it is to involve amateur radio in all aspects from the beginning.


Russel Dyson talking about how there was some apprehension at scale of the operation but with planning it all came together.  ACRD only had 20 full time staff and included City of Port Alberni and volunteers to pull it off.

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Report from ACRD Staff will be coming to the ACRD Board and City of Port Alberni.

Western Forest Products, Catalyst and Port Authority participated fully and donated equipment and land to add realism to the scenarios.

It was ACRD, City, Nanaimo, Tofino, Ucluelet…. they were all thrown in with no expectation.  Comment from the evaluators: “You guys worked so well together”  Very proud.

Actually did paper work through HAM Radio to request resources like a Helicopter for assessment and situational awareness.

Mid way through the exercise an emergency Board meeting was held where it was suggested that 50% of the Board members, in a real case, would not have been able (either by being away or injured, or worse?) would not be able to be involved.

The big takeaway from Mr. Dyson.  Practice, Practice Practice. The team building and all of the different skill sets brought together was absolutely invaluable.  More of these exercises are needed across the province.

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Extremely valuable and great job to the Province for bringing this forward and making it happen.

From the Questions – Looking at ways to improve communications perhaps including an EMBC specific radio channels but that requires infrastructure (that can also be affected by earthquake). Some great questions from audience on EMBC putting in resources to remote communities, on authority piece (when does local government take control)… the paperwork needed was huge and really needed to focus on that.

“We thought as planners maybe we would have staff that would walk out and be too stressed as new employees… but it did not happen. People worked together and collaborated and there were tense moments but there was great team work”.

Is there a next step, next place?

Minister comments that if a similar event was taken on in a larger urban centre it would be a very different and valuable exercise.  There have been many requests from other communities to have a similar exercise.

7:30AM Wednesday – It’s early! How about Motels and Ultimatums?

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It feels like an early morning. Tuesday night was a long one of receptions and networking and, honestly, wine.  But this is really where you learn from others and from other stakeholders.

Case in point: Catalyst Paper.  As an elected representative I have a responsibility to listen to all sides of an issue.  Last night, I talked to a rep from Catalyst and his first words were something to the effect of:

“There is an Old Growth Logging moratorium resolution on the floor at UBCM. If you support it and that came to pass, Catalyst would likely shut as would the other mills in Port Alberni”.

I really don’t like ultimatums… I will leave it there.

8:00AM Wednesday – Cleaning up Motels, Inns, and Dives.

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Prince George talking about how they cleaned up derelict buildings.  It comes down to just doing what needs to be done after 30 years of talking about it. In 18 months 5 properties dealt with and now the community knows the Council and City are serious and “have a list you don’t want to be on”. (A Bylaw compliance list)

Make sure the process is transparent and legally supported but the community will support you and become your “eagle eyes”.

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Business licenses are the method and process you can use to force compliance. If you suspend or cancel a business license at the location then they must stop and you can start to implement and require changes through worksafe, or health, or fire or safety or many other reasons.

Bylaw department takes the lead to gather evidence, inspect and outline the deficiencies so that they can be followed up on.

The suspension can be delegated to staff. The owner can then appeal to Council. Council has to deal with the appeal, have a public hearing and act on the will of the public which generally supports the issue.

Key evidence: Police callouts to the location.

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If the “ground game” by Council and Staff is proper and transparent and wise, there will be no impetus for Judicial Review or challenges against the action from the motel owners or others.

Specific factors in business bylaw are helpful but most of the power comes from the statute in Community Charter. Just needs to be applied by an active and engaged Council and Staff.

Some places will shut and be “boarded up” but the hope is that the property owner does not want to keep paying taxes or the City can enforce destruction. (Which the Port Alberni has done in a number of cases).

10AM – Keynote at UBCM

Hearing from Dr. Samantha Nutt in the keynote this morning. An inspirational start that everyone needs and some simple messaging.

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11AM Resolutions! Convention Begins!

A shot of the table of contents of the Resolutions. You can see them all at www.ubcm.ca we will do the “A” resolutions first today.

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First four resolutions below all passed very easily on downloading of DNA Analysis costs, marijuana regulation and taxation and short term accomodation (AirBNB)

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11:30AM Protection of Old Growth on VI and Site C

Two main resolutions that generated important votes. First a recommendation for UBCM to send a letter to the province to halt Site C development. The resolution was in the “block” of resolutions to be considered together.  Someone attempted to pull it out and debated indivdually (only those opposed to a resolution can call for them to be pulled).

That attempt was defeated and so the resolution was passed with the rest of the first B resolutions. Second, there was a resolution brought forward to Protect Old Growth on Vancouver Island.

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The person in the picture is a councillor in Metchosin and a published scientist in forestry on the Island including all of the studies that have dealt with the issue.

After some debate, the motion on Old Growth passed strongly (I voted for as well).  We need to shift our forest industry on the Island to a sustainable second growth industry. There is no future in cutting Old Growth and the benefits from the small amount remaining, as has been advocated by the BC Chamber of Commerce, are huge and varied and much greater than the limited, finite value of cutting them.

Speech by Andrew Weaver.

You can view it on my Facebook page.

That was the end for the mornings major Resolutions… off to panels!

Cabinet Panel on Responsible Resource Development.

This is a Q&A session direct to Ministers.  Should be fun!

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  • Minister Coleman (Natural Gas Development) at Left
  • Minister Letnick (Agriculture)
  • Minister Polak (Environment)
  • Minister Thompson – (Forests and NRO)
  • Minister Bennett – (Energy and Mines)
  • Minister Rustad (Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation)

Q1 – From Powell River on Agriculture – Can municipalities trade ALR land.

A1 – Best option is to ensure the Agricultural Land Commission is involved in Official Community Plan and it is that Commission, arms length from Minister that can approve a trade or other work.

Q2 – Shawnigan Lake  – Will you commit to reviewing the Professional reliance model and ensure there are no conflicts of interest with analysts being hired by company. (This is to do with the Land Contamination in their watershed!)

A2 – Minister Env. – The province monitors operations and ensures the compliance is met. The analysts are not handling compliance, they are data gathering and analysts.

Q3 -Will biomass to electricity facility shut down in Interior?

A3 – Minister Bennett There is a negotiation underway right now for the IPPs in the province for first contracts from Campbell era. The prices Hydro pays for that energy is hopefully going to go down but he does not believe that will jeopardize those facilities.

Q4 – Interior Annual Allowable Cut reductions – Softwood Lumber agreement

A4 – Minister Thompson – Softwood Lumber agreement is now under heavy negotiation. We would like free trade but that has never happened in the forest sector. That said they are working very hard to make that new agreement including working with Government of Canada. There will be reductions in AACs as the transition occurs from Mountain Pine Beetle and government will help with transitioning if needed.

Q5 – MMBC and zero waste

A5 – Ministry of Environment has worked hard to make improvements to MMBC.  And Ministry will be working hard to get to zero waste as it is a major part of Climate plan.

Q6 – Site C – Food Security – Peace Valley could feed a million people a year.

A6 – Minister Ag – 95% of farmland in Peace will continue. Farmers affected will be compensated. High tech Farms will need electricity (??). He fully supports Site C.

4PM – Premier’s Address – Cabinet Panels – “Responsible Resource Development”

I live streamed Premier Clark’s 30 minute address.  The link to that is on my Facebook page.

8AM – Stretch Code : A New Tool for Better Buildings

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Stretch (Step) Code is a proposed tool.  Coming in the spring as part of Climate leadership plan. Building Act is now a specifically Province led.  Technical requirements driven by province no longer City.  Takes effect in December 2017.  All new buildings Net-Zero Ready by 2032.

The purpose is to build on top of the basic building code.  4 step between now and 2032.  As of Dec 2017 city will be able to require in bylaw that builders adhere to higher Steps.

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They will be rolling it out over the next 12-18 months.

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Voluntary incentive program – Energy Advisor ($500) and achieve Energuide 80 (which is Step 2 in plan above) they will refund portion of building fee.

(Note: my home is Energuide 77. So not quite 80. But shows it is achievable through renovations.)

Sparwood has seen very good uptake in new home building and builders do not report rise in cost.

Mentions City of Vancouver “raising the bar”. That will be useful in rest of province as builders start to learn required skills.

98% of houses since 2012 are built to Step 2.

PassivHaus is the goal/Step 4.

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In smaller communities wih no Energy Advisor we may be able to have building inspectors be certified as energy advisors so they can check off that box. Note it does not apply to Manufactured Homes. Ministry is currently analyzing the cost differences.

For existing buildings there is no step code due to complexities but there is work beginning on the national level.

9AM Wednesday Official Opposition  Address John Horgan

You can see the recording on my Facebook page.

10:30AM  – Resolutions Day 2! Individual Debates

I will include Resolutions of particular interest or debate.

B66 Hauling Company permitting.

Trucks are supposed to require oversize or weight.  This is asking province to enforce that.

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Passed.

 

 

 

 

B68 Train Idling reduction.

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Went to electronic vote. Passed.

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B69 – One Accessible vehicle in taxi services.

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Passed

B71 – Extended Absence from RD Board.  Boards would be able to dismiss a director and trigger a by-election after missing 4 meetings rather than have an alternate.

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Motion Fails

B74 – Allow gas taxes to be used for Fire Equipment.

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Passed.

B75 – Changing Police Funding model so that the shift from 30% to 70% is not all at once.

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Lots of debate. Carries with amendment striking the 2nd resolved paragraph.

B76 – Social Procurement –

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Amendment to take out the second Resolved (As a first step) passed. There are infrastruxture funding requirements in other jurisdictions (Ontario) that require these considerations.

Passed.

B77 – Socially responsible investing. (Climate) Creating an option for communities to invest.

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Long debate and very close electronic vote. Passed.

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B81 – Another call to change how RCMP funding (in a different way).

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Long debate and close vote. It fails.

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B82 – To have Province analyze the RCMP issue.

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Passes easily.

B85 – Bylaw Enforcement fine limits be raised to $5000. (To try to cover the costs actually incurred)

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B86/87/88 on pets and dangerous dog registry.

img_9116img_9117Amended B87

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B88 (focusing more on owners)

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All Passed.

11:00AM Resolutions continue

B91 – First Nation consultations

img_9120 C and D points were removed after much debate. Passed strongly.

B95 – Funding of Libraries in rural areas.

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Passes easily (province share in VIRB has gone from 25% to less than 10%)

B97 Gender Neutral Language

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Long debate with honestly some terrible comments. Passed easily. (Small house now)

B98 – Transgender protection

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Passes

Wednesday Afternoon – Red Cross – Weird Weather – BC Assessment.

Red Cross Disaster Management

In Fort McMurray : It was the local authority that got people out.
1929 dwellings destroyed 643 unsafe
28 days with evac order
80,000 individuals evac in 24hrs

They have a “shadow” population of 45,000. Spread all over country. Very unusual.

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$50M distributed to evacuees electronically within days.
$299M raised total. $165 from donations

Over 100,000 people registered in the emergency.
There are RC resources (cots/beds etc) in communities across BC.
First Aid by the Canadian Red Cross App

Be Ready by Canadian Red Cross App

Straight talk weird weather.

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Showing that heat is not evenly spread in any particular year, but trend (circle) is accelerating. From 0.48°C in Summer 2003 to over 1° Warming in 2015 winter.

Future projections.

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Projected 45% increase in heavy rain events south Island.

2015 may be the best case scenario in future, or low (cold) end of the worst.

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more local data at www.plan2adapt.ca

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General predictions for BC

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Light blue shows future extent of King Tide after sea level rise in False Creek (extends to Clark Drive.)

Most flood maps in Canada average age is 1986 are obsolete due to already occurred climate change. Expect 45% more flood area.

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Image shows when under three sea level rise changes, Vancouver will have up to 100% chance of need to move or deal with sea level changes due to King Tides taking over land.  “1” blue line In Vancouver, adaptation, replacement of viaducts will be built above flood level.

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You can’t rely on voluntary restrictions only. “If nothing is done to manage demand, if supply increases, demand will increase to manage it.” Monitoring and metering water. “Smarter metering the better”. Australia managed 10 years of drought because they had all metered usage and so could manage.  Cheapest safest way to expand supply is to stop wasting water (this also applies for electricity).

BC will need to increase irrigated farm areas outside lower mainland. Some areas of BC are wasting 30-60% of water from leakage.

Friday Finally!  First a Resolution.

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It is a near empty room on Friday morning but there are a number of important resolutions coming forward this morning so it is really important that as many people are here as possible.  Councillor Sharie Minions is pictured at front voting.  It was an early start after a long week!

A motion from the floor for university and college student housing.  Trying to address the rental housing crisis in Victoria and Vancouver.

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Passes easily.

A motion off the floor for Open Government at UBCM and Area Association.  It needed a 60% vote in order for it to be considered. It failed.

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Failed.

B99 – Resolution on allowing those who take Parental Leave can return with all of the same responsibilities.

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Much debate. Passed.

B100 – to acknowledge and support the Auditor General Local Government office.

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Fails.

B101 – Excellent Port Hardy Councillor Jessie Hemphill to task UBCM to invite all First Nations to participate in UBCM.

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Passes Unanimously

B102 – Prioritizing UBCM Resolution processes

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Defeated

B103 – Code of Conduct (to prevent sexual harassment) for future UBCM events.

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Passes as amended.

Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities address and BC Minister of Communities

Live Video (FB) of Minister Sohi and Minister Fassbender addressing UBCM

 Last Resolutions… for real.

B104 Taxation of Brownfields

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Passes.

B105  Allow Municipalities to tax multi-family residential differently from other residents.

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Defeated.

B106 – Rainwater Harvesting Systems

B107 to make it possible for government to force the extension of sewer to electoral areas without requiring consent.

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Fails. (Mostly due to abrogation of electoral area rights.)

B108 – To assess professional reliance regimes (Shawnigan Lake watershed issue)

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Passes.

B110 – Camping on riverbeds.

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Fails

B114 to review and change funding of Hospital infrastructure away from property taxes.

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Passes.

B122 – Pharmacare program

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Passes.

B127 Herring west coast ban.

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Passes.

B128 – Put unredeemed container deposits into parks.

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Defeated

After this resolution there was not enough time left to get to the many remaining resolutions.  The resolutions were thus voted as a block to either be endorses or not endorsed as the resolutions committee recommended, or if no recommendation was given, referred to the UBCM executive for a decision.

That brings an end to this report.  Another very tiring but very rewarding and interesting UBCM.  Looking forward to next year’s event which is being held in either Vancouver or Whistler.

(This was me most of the time in the conference hall… video live streaming and taking notes, or tweeting, or updating the blog or…) lol.

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2 thoughts on “Report from UBCM 2016 in Victoria”

  1. Please vote in favour of using the deposit money from beverage bottles for buying more land for parks. There is an growing need as more people are rediscovering the joys of recreation in the natural world.

    1. Makes sense!

      Here is the Resolution to be considered.
      (Likely to be considered on Thursday?)

      “Whereas the protection of greenspace is essential to our environmental, social and economic wellbeing and many of BC’s most valuable and most threatened ecosystems are found on private lands;

      And whereas $10-15 million could be raised annually for conservation by following the example of several states and recapturing the windfall monies that accrue when consumers fail to redeem container deposits;

      Therefore be it resolved that UBCM request the provincial government redirect unredeemed container deposits into an annual fund for the acquisition and protection of privately owned natural spaces in BC.”

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