Thursday, October 08, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, October 8, 2009

A trailblazer for the UBCM, more cutbacks to government programs and sharing the pain of vandalism across the Northwest, some of the items of note for the Thursday news cycle.

Daily News, front page, headline story
UBCM's FIRST ABORIGINAL PRESIDENT TALKS ABOUT NEW JOB-- There's a new head for the coming year at the UBCM and he's blazing a trail as he takes on his new tasks, Harry Nyce became the first aboriginal president of organization that represents the provinces municipalities, he outlined for the Daily News what his year ahead looks like (Daily News Archive Article )

More government cutbacks have been announced, with children bearing the brunt of the latest reductions, a move which has attracted the attention and the anger of the MLA for the North Coast Gary Coons, who believes that Northern communities are bearing too much of the brunt of the cost cutting measures (Daily News Archive Article )

Finding ways to keep Prince Rupert's youth engaged in North coast life and finding opportunities for employment for them is the focus of the North Coast Youth Career Awareness Project, which provided some details on their efforts so far in a presentation at Northwest Community College (Daily News Archive Article )

The Sports section outlined the progress of the Charles Hays volleyball program as well as a recap of the weekend's action in the PRMBA.

Northern Health Budget Cuts-- A review of some of the announced cuts from Northern Health and the impact that they will have on the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital operations and programs. (see story here)

Prince Rupert Woman could face murder charges-- Details on the most recent court session regarding the death of 42 year old Melvin Christison, who was killed in downtown Prince Rupert back in June. (see story here)

view news story from CFTK below

The Northern View
NHA cuts travel vaccine service-- changes to the procedure for vaccinations for travellers planning to leave the country will send those making vacation plans off to their family doctors for their necessary shots. (see story here)

CBC Northern British Columbia, Daybreak North
Vandalism in Burns Lake--Vandalism is an ongoing concern these days in Prince Rupert, with a litany of broken windows over the last number of months testimony to the troubles that many merchants have to deal with in the city. In a report from CBC Daybreak North, local merchants and residents will find that they are not alone in their troubles in the Northwest, with a story on the vanadalism problem in Burns Lake and the impact it is having on that community (listen to story here)

Daily News, Front page, headline story
UBCM's First Aboriginal President talks about new Job
By George T. Baker

The Prince Rupert Daily News
Thursday, October 8, 2009

Harry Nyce was walking on clouds.

Of course you can't actually walk on clouds - but the new president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities was relating a feeling he was overcome with as he begins his one-year tenure as the province's top advocate for municipalities.

Nyce made some time for the Daily News to discuss his new post.

"It's a great feeling. It was a long process because of the workings of the UBCM positions. It takes a while to come to this spot," said Nyce.

Feelings are soon to give way to hard work. Nyce will have a full load to deal with on behalf of the municipal governments.

Among the issues is the industrial taxation, which was brought forward for consideration at this year's UBCM by the city of Castlegar. The resolution, in part, boils down to cities wanting to avoid having large industries decide they do not like paying tax rates that the industry deems too high.

An example is what is happening in Castlegar, where the council had to shelve 40 per cent of its planned spending after Catalyst Paper, the local mill operator, decided it was not interested in paying full taxes because the company did not believe it received full value for its tax dollar.

"There are some concerns there in a number of communities throughout the province," said Nyce.

There is also the issue of how the UBCM is run. Reports out of Vancouver last week suggested that urban communities felt overwhelmed by the presence of rural communities.

There was a thought by Delta Mayor Lois Jackson that it was time to split the UBCM into two bodies - one for urban communities and one for rural - so that urban concerns about crime and community development weren't ignored during conference week.

"It's an opinion, I think. And I think it's an important one to distinguish. But rural communities have the same problems, unfortunately, and crime, drug addiction and homelessness are issues all communities face."

"That's the true nature of UBCM," explained Nyce. "The name itself - UBCM - just connotatively suggests successful teamwork and partnership. Yes, the rural areas have a voice, but at the same time the larger communities, I feel, have the same voice as well."

Nyce will also chair a new task force that will look into the changes to the Election Act in B.C. The changes would investigate how long local politicians would serve in each term, with the current system being three years.

But is there a real appetite for change - especially if it means shorter terms - in a province that just rejected electoral reform?

Nyce would not commit to speculation, but said that it was one of the topics they would deal with as a group.

"The task force will update ourselves with regard to the local government act for the first part and I think we go from there with what recommendations we would make," said Nyce,
In a significant way, Nyce's new job is a coming of age not only for the UBCM, but also the province as a whole.

As a Nisga'a, Nyce is the first Aboriginal to hold the organization's top job, which from his perspective is a fundamental shift in the way Aboriginals are being viewed.

"I have to thank my predecessors for having the vision to allow the Nisga'a into the Kitimat-Stikine Regional District process back in the 1970s," said Nyce.

Allowing the Nisga'a in, he said, lead directly to his nomination.

Nyce said people should be careful not to read too much into the fact he is the first Aboriginal president of the UBCM. But the collaboration of First Nations and local governments working together more and more (through the Community-to-Community workgroups as an example) are useful.

"It continues dialogue, which I think is the example we can use," said Nyce.

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