New program for young women leads council briefs from Oct. 15

City council received notification that Grand Forks has been selected to participate in the Head Start for Girls and Young Women program.

Auditor General reportAt the Grand Forks City Council meeting on Oct. 15, council received a report from Basia Ruta, B.C.’s auditor general for local government (AGLG).Ruta began work as B.C.’s first AGLG in January with the goal of conducting performance audits which provide local governments with objective information and advice to help them be accountable to their communities for their stewardship of public assets and their achievement of value for money in their operations.The annual report covered the period from April 25, 2012 through March 31, 2013.“She gave everyone an update on what they’ve been doing,” said Doug Allin, Grand Forks city administrative officer.  Head Start for Young Women programCity council received notification that Grand Forks has been selected to participate in the Head Start for Girls and Young Women program.The program is an initiative of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). Grand Forks is set to become one of only seven municipalities across Canada to deliver the project.“That’s an exciting program,” said Taylor. “As one of those parents of girls, as much as you prepare your daughter to enter into public life and take a role in a number of areas they are limited by society. I think this is a really progressive program. It’s really flattering for Grand Forks to be one of only seven cities to offer the program. Although we don’t yet know exactly what’s going to take place, we’re seeing great support from other organizations in the community.”The project is designed to run for one year, from Oct. 2013 until the fall of 2014 with the objective to increase the capacity of girls and young women to identifiy and respond to specific barrier to their full participation in civic, political and community life in Canada. Spearheading the program in Grand Forks is Coun. Cher Wyers, who applied for it on behalf of the city.“The program was introduced at an FCM meeting back in May that I attended,” she said. “So I made the leap and submitted an application. From there, I received a phone call in July for an interview.”Wyers said she found out in August that Grand Forks had been chosen as one of the seven communities from across Canada.“I know they wanted a rural component,” said Wyers. “I also articulated that we had a number of womens’ groups in our region.”
Wyers said they will be looking to attract 16-24 year-old young ladies to the program.“I’m just in the outreach assessment process right now,” she said. “I’m networking with the various organizations (such as the Boundary Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, Selkirk College, and the Boundary women’s business group) and asking them to approach young girls or women to see if they would be interested in the program. Once we have our group together of six to 12 young ladies, the representative from Ottawa will visit our community to kick off the program and evaluate our funding needs.”The young women will eventually come up with a community project which they will spearhead themselves, with the guidance of Wyers and other mentors. Asset Management PlanAt council on Oct. 15, Mayor Brian Taylor talked about a presentation he gave at a special Asset Management B.C. seminar. Attending the meeting, which took place Oct. 10 at River Rock Casino in Delta, with Taylor was city CAO Doug Allin, who said the presentation was very well received.“Brian (Taylor) and the mayor from Golden were the two who were chosen to present in front of delegates from all over the province,” said Allin. “There was over 100 people in the ballroom. The mayor stood up and talked about the initiatives that council has done. He impressed the provincial government and helped us towards our grant application for 2014.”The grants are to help with the multi-utility project in which the city would improve not only the roads but the infrastructure below such as sewer and water pipes as well.‘It really couldn’t have gone any better for us,” said Allin. “Getting out in front of all those people and demonstrating what the city has done certainly bodes well for us.”Taylor said the meeting was a cross-section of municipal staff and councils.“Best of all, there was a provincial and federal representative in the audience,” he said. Taylor gave a lot of credit to Allin for setting up the opportunity for the presentation using his connections.“Through his connection to LGMA, the group that represents paid employees, got us invited to be part of a panel discussion,” he said. “When I got there, I found out I was going to have some podium time. It was really worthwhile for me to get up and tell the Grand Forks story to a very receptive group of people.”Taylor said that he believes Grand Forks stacks up to any city in B.C. when it comes to its asset management plan.“We’re ready to go here,” he said. “We’ve done all the preliminary work. We’ve done all our homework. We’ve set ourselves up to be a demonstration area.”Meeting with Alex AtamanenkoMayor Taylor and CAO Allin, along with several members of council, met recently with Alex Atamanenko, Southern Interior Member of Parliament.Atamanenko inquired about how the city is doing after the fire. In turn, council asked the local MP about his projects.“It gives us an opportunity to meet with our federal representative,” said Coun. Bob Kendal. “It gives us a chance to pick his brain and him to pick ours. We asked if he heard anything about infrastructure projects and anything else that might be beneficial to us.”Kendal said the city has been waiting for almost three years for the federal government to make an announcement. Kendal said they also talked to Atamanenko about how best to best help people with mental health issues, particularly in light of the fires at City Hall and at the Grand Forks and Winnipeg Hotels.“Both levels of senior government (federal and provincial) have downloaded a lot of that responsibility onto municipalities,” he said. “After what happened at City Hall – whether there’s a better way to deal with that. Some people fall through the cracks and the consequences are not pretty. Atamanenko said it was an opportune time to get ahold of our local provincial representative (MLA Linda Larson) and the minister responsible to have a discussion on how to lobby the government to come up with better programs.”

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