Grand Forks city council is currently at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Vancouver and health care and deer are on the minds of many councillors.
The convention serves as a place where politicians from local government across the province can form policy, network, share experiences and take a position on issues.
Members of the city and council met with the Interior Health Authority (IHA) this past Monday to discuss related issues.
“I will make a presentation to IHA about concerns that we have in the community as it relates to the provision of health care, or the lack thereof,” explained mayoral candidate and Coun. Christine Thompson last week.
“I want to come out of (the meeting) with a better understanding of services within this community. Why they are what they are and why it seems to be depleting at such a rapid rate without any kind of dialogue with the community,” Coun. Michael Wirischagin said.
Coun. Cher Wyers had to cancel her trip to UBCM last minute but she said she contributed to the IHA presentation regarding ambulance services.
“Something has come to light that our air ambulance service in the Kootenay Boundary region is somewhat substandard since last October,” said Wyers.
“They had a pilot project going for helicopter services and the helicopter was actually in our region. (It) was a two-year project and it has now gone to B.C. Ambulance (service) and the helicopter that they use now has to come over from Kamloops to pick up a patient, whereas before, we had a helicopter on standby here.”
The issue of deer has been one that has seemingly been in the consciousness of residents of Grand Forks and members of council will be looking into it at the convention.
“I understand there will be a fairly large gathering around deer issues again and I’m hoping that I can share some of our frustrations with other communities,” Mayor Brian Taylor said.
Coun. Chris Moslin said that, like the mayor, he would be attending the session on deer and urban wildlife as well as all the resolution meetings.
Taylor also said that he would be talking with other mayors from B.C., especially ones in the surrounding area.
“I’m looking forward to the Highway 3 mayors meeting to discuss the economics of Highway 3,” explained Grand Forks’ mayor.
“We have a new report by Davies and Company that will be on the agenda.”
Coun. Joy Davies (no relation to Davies and Company) said that she would attend all the resolution sessions, especially since Grand Forks had a number of resolutions and would be attending a number of workshops, including ones on creating ag-friendly communities and community safety.
Coun. Gene Robert said that he would be busy with some city-sponsored resolutions and some projects he has been working on.
“Grand Forks has sponsored two resolutions at UBCM that are discussing forestry as we go ahead with it,” Robert said.
“I’m also going to be, like Joy, on the floor every day at all the resolutions because there’s one that I want to deal with on non-profits for medicine and the fourth one I want to work on is CETA (the Canadian and European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement).”
Robert also said that he had a meeting with the mayor of Squamish, who was going to co-sponsor the aforementioned forestry resolutions that were going forward.
The theme of this year’s convention is Rethink, Replace and Rejuvenate and some members of city council will be looking into infrastructure.
“I think (the theme) is quite fitting considering the infrastructure deficit that Grand Forks has and I think it will be a good opportunity because it’s not just Grand Forks that is experiencing these problems, it’s a lot of communities,” Wirischagin explained.
“It’ll be nice to be able to have dialogue with the communities that are experiencing the problem and try to figure out how we can rethink how we operate and plan and move forward from there when it comes to replacing pipes and roads and things of that nature.”
The City of Grand Forks’ staff will also be making a presentation on asset management at UBCM.
The aging population will also be on the minds of some city council members as well.
“There’s a good workshop on ‘greying’ services, the transition in communities that are facing an increase in seniors population similar to ours and what these communities are doing to make that transition,” Taylor said.
Wirischagin said that a seminar on building “age-friendly” communities was relevant as well.
“I think it’s quite relevant when it comes to Grand Forks in that we have, not necessarily a changing population in terms of numbers, it’s just a real demographic shift,” he said.
“The population is the same but the age of the population continues to change. It would be nice to see how other communities are handling that situation,” Wirischagin went on to say.