City rep returns from PEI conference

A local councillor returned recently from a trip to a sustainability conference in Prince Edward Island.

Grand Forks City Councillor Gary Smith.

A local councillor returned recently from a trip to a sustainability conference in Prince Edward Island recently where he attended several sessions on municipal governance.At the regular council meeting on March 24, council received for information a report from Councillor Gary Smith in regards to his attendance at the Federal Council of Municipalities (FCM) conference in Charlottetown, PEI in February.Smith reported that on his first day at the event, he participated in a session which discussed the Canadian Infrastructure Report. “With the many figures presented, it was clear that while Canadian infrastructure is not in disrepair, it is at risk,” reported Smith. “Nearly 30 per cent of all municipal infrastructure, based on a survey of 123 municipalities, is rated at ‘fair’ to ‘very poor’. The four primary assets are: drinking water systems, wastewater and storm water networks, and municipal roads. “The replacement cost of these assets alone totals $171.8 billion. The point was driven home that municipalities cannot afford these costs on their own. It builds on the argument that municipalities cannot subsist on the current grant system of funding employed by senior levels of government.”Smith also attended a session called “storm warning” about the effects of global warming and its effect on how water is circulated through the atmosphere.The councillor also attended a presentation on making sustainability work in rural communities.“It spoke to Internet connectivity being a key factor in making a rural community work,” he said in the report. “Of course, with our fibre optic network we have a real opportunity to be a leader in B.C. as we develop strategies around our asset.”A report that caught Smith’s eye focused on how methane captured from organic waste landfills could be used to generate electricity.“Perhaps there is an opportunity here,” he said.Doug Allin, city chief administrative officer, said that all councillors as well as the mayor receive money through the city’s operating budget to attend different conferences each year.“These are for relations from our city to relate to other bodies to provide information back to us,” said Allin. “It gives councillors the opportunity to meet with the providers for these services at a focused sessions where they’re able to sit in on workshops related to specific grant programs, related to specific initiatives.”Allin said the city regularly sends council members to conferences put on by FCM, Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG). “This is how the business of the city gets down outside the community with the provincial and federal government,” he said.