Representatives from the Town of Smithers attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention in Saskatoon two weeks ago where a resolution was passed demanding the removal of changes to the Federal Fisheries Act from Bill-C38.
“The resolution was brought forward by a regional district in the Okanagan urging the federal government to remove proposed changes from the omnibus bill and have them go through a proper process at the committee level,” Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach said.
The three day convention gave the more than 1,500 delegates from across Canada an opportunity to explore Saskatoon one of the fastest growing municipalities in Canada.
Delegates toured the “Paris of the Prairies,” to witness some of the initiatives Saskatoon’s city council has implemented over the past few years including ever-changing art installations around the city.
Councillors also took part in workshops and discussions about major issues facing modern municipalities.
“One thing communities across Canada have in common is the challenge of maintaining our infrastructure,” Bachrach said.
“It’s certainly something we see here in Smithers.
The hope is by 2014 we’ll see a new program that’s going to meet our needs.”
Councillor Phil Brienesse said it was a great opportunity to network with other councillors especially those who face similar issues as Smithers, noting he took a lot away from the convention.
“It was a really positive experience,” Brienesse said. “It was a really good chance to network with peers, especially with social media.
Following different mayors and councillors on Twitter and Facebook just opens up a whole new avenue of ideas.”
However, it was clear the convention, which included more than 90 per cent of Canadian municipalities, was not only about networking.
It was also an opportunity to develop a unified, long-term solution for one of the most pressing issues facing municipalities: the future of their infrastructure programs.
“The need for a long-term infrastructure plan going forward was a huge topic of debate at the convention” Brienesse said.
“The current Building Canada plan ends in 2014 and there’s a real concern for municipalities to have something in place before 2014 so we can have stable funding and be able to plan our budgets ahead of time.”
“Probably the most contentious resolution or the one people were really talking about was with regard to the proposed changes to the Federal Fisheries Act that are embedded in Bill-C38
“There was a resolution that was brought forward by a regional district in the Okanagan urging the federal government to pull out those proposed changes from the omnibus bill and have them go through a proper process at the committee level.
“It was a strong message from municipal government that protecting fish and fish habitat is very important to communities across Canada.
“One thing that communities across Canada have in common is the challenge of maintaining our infrastructure. It’s certainly something we see here in Smithers.
The hope is that by 2014 we’ll see a new program that’s going to meet our needs.”