Three years after being elected to the North Central Local Government Association, Williams Lake city councillor Sheila Boehm is the organization’s new president.
She previously held the post of first vice-president and became president during the NCLGA annual general meeting and convention held May 9 to 12 in Dawson Creek.
“I think it is a great opportunity to be a bigger voice for the north,” Boehm said. “The reason I run for politics is to be a voice for the area and my hometown especially.”
NCLGA encompasses from 100 Mile House in the south to B.C. communities in the north and northwest.
At the recent convention the biggest issues of concern were the opioid crisis, homelessness and doctor shortages, she said.
“A lot of our main issues are mental health and addictions. We need better services.”
Boehm said a few of the First Nations councillors who were there from the north at the AGM talked about doing a summit in Prince George for the whole north next spring to talk about the opioid crisis and share some of the things other communities are doing.
There are examples in some smaller communities that are inspiring and Boehm would like to see the summit involve school districts, the RCMP, First Nations and non-First Nations community leaders and hopefully get some solutions.
Now that she is NCLGA president she will have a seat on the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) beginning in July, which meets a few times a year.
“I feel like it is one more place to have a voice,” she said of UBCM.
Williams Lake city councillor Michael Moses is also now a director-at-large with NCLGA.
“I am excited and honoured for this opportunity to represent our city and region as a director of the NCLGA,” Moses said. “I will do my absolute best to ensure that the needs of the people in our region are heard and met.”
He said he is especially excited at the possibility of being on the Indigenous relations committee for an area that includes 70 per cent of B.C.’s landmass and 60 per cent of its First Nations.
“I want to send out a heartfelt thank you to our mayor and council, as I couldn’t have this opportunity without their support.”
Williams Lake brought several resolutions to the NCLGA that were all endorses and will go forward to the UBCM convention in the fall.
One of the resolutions from Williams Lake called for a review of how health authorities are structured for communication with the communities they serve and between each other, and how they are run.
Boehm said she drafted that resolution and thinks health authorities are getting top-heavy with administration, but part of that could be because it is difficult to recruit health care professionals.
A second resolution was about the rural health provider crisis and the lack of enough doctors.
She said it is estimated one in five rural residents do not have a doctor or health care provider and emergency rooms are at the risk for more closures.
Another resolution asked for more transparency from the Ministry of Health and communication.
“We did a housing delays resolution regarding ongoing delays with B.C. Housing and a late resolution about ride hailing services and allowing for those services to come into smaller rural communities.”