Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick reports on the UBCM

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick. Bulletin file.

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick. Bulletin file.

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick and Councillor Sandra Roberts represented the city at the Union of BC Municipalities conference last month. Mayor McCormick has delivered a report on the busy week to Council.

On Monday, McCormick attended three meetings around the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI). There were about 30 people from the 14 resort municipalities at the first meting. This meeting was mainly discussing what issues should be brought to the Minister, but a sub-committee was also formed to do the work of getting the program modified. McCormick will be one of the three mayors on the committee.

McCormick reports that there has been a complete turnover in RMI ministry staff so the conversation at that meeting was more general.

“I met with Green and BC Liberal representatives on Tuesday,” McCormick wrote in the report. “The goal was to makes sure that Kimberley front of mind for these folks as well as the usual ministry staffers we are working with. Andrew Weaver had a medical issue, so was only at UBCM for his address. I met with Green deputy leader and MLA Sonia Furstenau. I also met with MLA Todd Stone from the BC Liberals. Equity partnerships, rental housing, the AP process for Certificates of Compliance, our wildfire risk reduction projects, and urban wildlife management tools were among the topics.”

“I met with the Air BNB folks again this UBCM. In addition to getting our latest stats, we discussed various ways they could help increase tourism to Kimberley.

“I am a voting member of the Municipal Insurance Association (MIA), so attended the AGM. I talked with CEO Tom Barnes about the seminars they run across the province. We need to understand what our exposure is as elected officials, and what coverage we can expect from the MIA. Recall that Gerry Taft from Invermere is more than $100K light in his net worth as a result of losing a lawsuit a couple of years ago. We need to know where the lines are.

“There was also a gathering of concerned Mayors about the cancellation of the Rural Development Fund. Implications are not clear in these early days, but everyone agreed that taking that money to throw at a very large forestry problem was misplaced. There will be much more to come on this I am sure.”

McCormick had two major meetings on Wednesday, September 25.

“I met with Executive Director of the Major Investment Office, Ron Bronstein, for two reasons. First was to get direction on who could help with an enquiry from a municipality in China who wishes to establish an MOU or other relationship for investment opportunities. He pointed me towards the International Trades folks. I also gave him a heads up that the Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College would be calling to interview him on what defines ‘investment ready’ and what we need to do here in the EK to be a serious contender for major projects looking for a home in BC.”

Next up was Interior Health.

“After a conversation with Jacqui Van Zyl of the Divisions of Family Practice, I set up a meeting with Susan Brown – CEO of Interior Health,” McCormick reported. “Without access to lab and xRay facilities, after hours urgent care in Kimberley will be no more than a triage center for the regional hospital. My meeting was to advocate for this extension of service. The pilot earlier this year garnered great reviews, but the volume of use did not validate a business case. The lab hours and service have been cut back, making it difficult to provide timely service to doctors and clients. Susan agreed to investigate.”

Sandra and I attended the Energy Breakfast, after which the Minister and a panel discussed and answered questions on a host of energy topics. There has been good debate and dialogue on energy issues; general consensus is that we just need to start focusing in on solutions and quit the extreme views from both sides of the debate. We all care! There is already a lot of investment and work that is contributing to solutions and we need to focus on that.

“I spent considerable time with the Community Forest Association, trying to understand the process for achieving a sustainable community forest. It is not an easy thing to do, nor is it for every community.

“There are specific steps to follow and business cases to be made. We need to piece together exactly what that looks like for us. Please stay tuned.

“I got word that the Independent Lumber Manufacturers Association (ILMA) was looking for a home for their 2020 convention, so made sure they understood that Kimberley would be their best choice. I will ask RCR to reach out.

“Sandra and I attended the Forestry Breakfast on Friday. Lots of recognition of issues, and the logging truck protest. Minister Donaldson acquitted himself nicely under considerable pressure, highlighting the global issues that have impacted the industry as well as the domestic ones. Tough time and no silver bullets. There is definitely agreement that value, not volume is the way of the future. There was a UBCM resolution passed that urges the Province to decentralize forestry decision.

“I met with Mark Edwards, VP Community & Government, and my corporate contact at Teck. Michelle Unger is the senior local contact responsible for the office in Kimberley. We discussed the sale of the SunMine and the expansion probabilities. I was hoping that we would have positive word from BC Hydro on the EPA extension to 2MWp, but it was not. Scott and I met with CEO Chris O’Riley of BC Hydro a few weeks ago and presented our case for extension. I have been told that the letter outlining their decision will be here in the next couple of weeks. Mark and I also discussed the industrial park and issues getting the land compliant. Teck are committed to working with us on making this happen and Mark suggested working closely with Michelle to move this forward.”