Mayor Andrew Jakubeit and members of Penticton Council will have the rare opportunity to meet face-to-face with provincial Ministers to discuss key issues at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Whistler.
Held annually, the conference is the only opportunity for elected local government officials to meet with their provincial counterparts and discuss matters of significant or emerging interest, said the City, in a news release Monday.
“Attendance at UBCM over the last few years has allowed Penticton City Council to drive policy development on a range of topics and issues facing our community”, said Jakubeit. “Various projects currently underway in our community, including major infrastructure upgrades like the $312 million hospital expansion, are a direct result of the work done at UBCM.”
For this year’s conference, Penticton City Council will focus their attention on matters pertaining to taxation, housing, mental health, flood recovery and funding, sentencing, transportation and environment.
The following meetings have been confirmed:
- Transition to Employer Health Tax (EHT): Ministry of Finance Carole James
The City is requesting that the EHT implementation be deferred until 2020 in order to mitigate the impact of this new tax. (The province’s announcement to eliminate Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums will impact the City in the form of an additional staff cost amounting to some $404,000.)
- Housing Resource: Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selena Robinson
The City will meet with the Minister to discuss the work and co-operation between the City, BC Housing and the Province that has taken place to date to address affordable housing shortages in Penticton and the various solutions and ideas available to continue to make progress on this challenging issue facing many B.C. communities, including Penticton.
- Detoxification and mental health services to aid recovery and healing: Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy
The City is requesting that detox beds with associated support services be made available, preferably at the Penticton Regional Hospital or other appropriate facilities, and that the Province ensure the appropriate resources are available for those in the community who are suffering and looking for resolution to addictions.
- Flood Recovery Funding: Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth
The City is urging the Province to work to reduce environmental permitting timelines to aid flood recovery and public safety, or allow local governments to perform flood recovery works without permits, subject to Provincial notification, and only if they have engaged a qualified professional for remediation advice.
- Flood Recovery: Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Rural Development Doug Donaldson
The City is requesting that the Province allow local governments to perform flood recovery without permits, subject to Provincial notification, and only if they have engaged a qualified professional for advice. Also, that the Province prioritize remedial works that affect public safety.
- Intermittent Sentencing: Attorney General David Eby
The City is requesting a review of the appropriateness of when Intermittent Sentences are used to ensure they are applied efficiently and legitimately, as outlined in legislative and case law. The City also wishes to discuss prolific offenders, public safety for rural policing and supports for RCMP.
- Cycling Support: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena
The City is requesting that the Province help lobby the Federal government to secure a three-kilometre multi-use path constructed on the north and south side of Highway 97 from the Okanagan River Channel to Wright's Beach Camp.
-Remediation of Contaminated Properties: Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman
The City is requesting that the Province review legislation and regulations with the intention of requiring timely remediation of privately held contaminated properties by regulating and imposing active remediation of contaminants on sites.
“We rarely get an opportunity to meet face to face with the Province and others to voice concern, learn and lobby for Penticton. We are looking forward to a productive week”, said Jakubeit.
Additionally, Penticton’s participation in various policy and resolution sessions lead to the development of policy at a provincial level that impacts and benefits all BC communities.
Sessions of interest to the City of Penticton include:
Local Police Services – Amendments to service
Affordable Rental Housing and Co-operative Housing
Seniors Funding (Housing and support services)
Enhanced Municipal Bylaw Fine Collection Procedures
Modify Speculation Tax: Local Government Vacancy Levy
Short-Term Vacation Rental Listing Platforms’ Responsibility in Compliance
Collection of Unpaid Bylaw Fines
Recycle BC Stewardship Plan Update
The City’s total cost of attending this year’s UBCM conference is approximately $14,500.
This includes conference frees, accommodation, transportation and meals.