Monday, September 28, 2009

Meet, greet, eat and repeat, it's UBCM time in the Big City...

Five days to better government, or at least a comparison of notes on what's new in the world of municipal responsibilities, that's what is in store for our Mayor, civic administrators and whatever city councillors and Regional District members took to the skies this weekend for the UBCM convention in Vancouver.

Using the theme of "A province of Champions" this year's convention offers five days of meetings, information sessions, meet and greets and shopping expeditions for the province's civic leaders.

Over the course of those five days, our elected officials and administrative officials will have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the major issues of the day and perhaps some of the lesser ones.

Monday was the arrival day, a chance for the delegates to wander around the Vancouver convention centre, do a bit of networking, take some tours and sit in on some study sessions.

Tuesday offers a number of workshops to drop into, whether it be Championing sustainable Transportation in small and mid sized communities, a sure bet for early risers with a 7:30 am start time, or perhaps delegates may wish to pick up some pointers on how to develop some practical partnerships with First Nations in the afternoon, there's much to do and much to see as the convention gets rolling.

New Delegates have the chance to learn the ropes at 4:50 pm and then can head off to join all the delegates at the Welcome reception from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, (though one wonders if the newbies have to buy the first round?).

Wednesday is the official opening day of the UBCM deliberations, O Canada at 8:30 am and the Presidents opening address just before the session is officially underway at nine.

Two key policy papers will be introduced during the convention, the subject of Police services and their affordability in the province and how that could impact on RCMP negotiations across the province.

The other policy paper of interest will be focused on the topic of how to strengthen the Regional District system of government in the province.

A full slate of events is planned over the following three days, including the always well attended Municipal Marketplace, described as "The place to do business with local government".
One stop shopping for municipalities looking for equipment, information services or any other item that could strike their fancy (consultants and contract workers anyone?).

Once they have the shopping carts full there are meetings and discussion sessions, both formal and off the cuff meetings that may provide for some helpful assistance to localized problems.

From there through to Friday's closing remarks from Premier Gordon Campbell, the city's reps will be blitzing through the convention seeking out provincial cabinet ministers and fellow civic officials seeking common ground, perhaps some solutions and in the case of Prince Rupert a little helpful advice on the merits or lack of it seems in the upcoming arrival of the HST.

The city issued a call for an Emergency resolution motion, one that was worked on by city council over the last few weeks (though not unanimously), advising that we should withhold support of the tax until the province implements exemptions and credits for those items that previously were not taxable, how it will be received and what success the city has with its resolution will be of interest to all, though we suspect that all of those cabinet ministers that our officials will be chatting with will see things a little differently.

Friday's wrap up takes but half a day, with a Federal address from Stockwell Day at 8:30 am, the installation of officers for 2009-10 and then the Premier's final address to the convention at 11 am, they bang the gavel at noon bringing to an end this annual trip down governance lane.

By Monday we will surely be hearing of all the progress we have made on any number of files with the province, our travelling delegation will file their travel expense forms.
And by the time that council next meets in chambers here, we surely will be provided with some of the details of how our crew spent their week on Vancouver's waterfront and what success they found and benefits they have delivered to us from their efforts.

The truly dedicated of policy followers can keep track of the daily events from the UBCM website, which has a copy of the entire conventions itinerary from the opening registrations of Monday to the final declarations of Friday.
Further details on the convention can be found from the pocket planner, or from the Civic Net site which outlines the year round functions of the UBCM.

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