Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pull out the air miles cards, its municipal travel season!

Travelling on the public dime is always a controversial topic, basically a no win situation for politicians, who are damned if they do and damned if they don’t when it comes to heading off to other locales both mundane and exotic.

Since the days of Pete Lester and his many trips to Asia, through to the more recent expeditionary missions taken by Herb Pond, travel is the one item of the municipal budget that can quickly get the citizens talking and wondering.

With the UBCM convention all set to go for later this month, Mayor Jack Mussallem is making his list of key items to discuss with his provincial counterparts both municipal and provincial when they all gather in Vancouver. Taking time to examine the upcoming political gathering for the Daily News he pointed to issues such as the Tsimshian Access project, health care and BC Ferries as some areas he would like to chat about.

The Mayor, is taking along members of the City’s senior administration staff with him as both the City Manager Gord Howie and Corporate Administrator Robert Grodecki will be accompanying the Mayor as he makes the annual pilgrimage in quest of better governance.

Not know yet is how many of the city’s councillors will be getting boarding passes for the trip, in past years most if not all of the city’s elected officials have gone for the four day field trip on the workings of government, each with a list of contacts and issues to bring up with assorted provincial cabinet ministers.

This year, Regional District will also be taking to the road, with a full complement of officials from the SQCRD making the journey.

And the travel budget will get a bit more of a workout in the near future, at Tuesday night’s Council meeting, it was announced that Prince Rupert was about to join in on a new twinning project with cities in China and Japan.

Newly installed Economic Development Officer Nellie Cheng is working out the details on the hands across the ocean plans, an initiative with the Port of Prince Rupert that will be used to take advantage of provincial government twinning funds (providing we assume they too don't get called back in this new era of austerity), with the finishing touches to put on a “preliminary trip” that will set the table for those twinning projects. (See pages 9-11 of City council agenda from September 8)

No word on how many, or which of our elected officials or administrative staff will be the lucky ones to get in some international travel in the near future.

And the road trips continue on, there may be some travel for a representative or representatives of council in October, when a conference on making cities livable for children takes place in Langley, (pages 33-44 of council agenda) five of the six members of council in attendance on Tuesday voted in favour of the motion to send someone down south, with only councillor Gordon Payne apparently expressing hesitations on the plan. (see council voting record for September 8).

So as we move fully into fall and winter, there may be more than a few opportunities for our elected (and administrative) officials to take to the road.

Lets hope that the city puts all those air miles to good use in the near future, here’s the online version of the Air Miles catalogue, we don’t see any place where we can redeem them for property tax credits or reductions on any upcoming bills, or for deals on loads of blacktop for road repairs, so perhaps we can submit our suggestions to the city as to where we could reinvest those valuable miles…

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